The second year of COVID-19 pandemic illustrated improved performance in rubber and rubber product sectors with the total export reached a record high of RM71 billion, increased by 46.3% compared to RM48.5 billion in 2020.
In 2021, latex goods contributed 91.8% to the total rubber products exports with rubber gloves remain the leader of the pack, contributing to 88.9% to the total rubber products export at RM54.8 billon, an increase of 55.4% over the same period in 2020 at RM35.3 billion.
This is followed by Industrial Rubber Goods (IRG), an increase of 40.7% amounting to RM1.3 billion compared to the same period in 2020 at RM0.9 billion. Export of tyres showed an increase of 30.7% at RM1.7 billion, compared to RM1.3 billion in 2020, while Footwear and General Rubber Goods recorded an increase of 19.6% and 13% respectively.
Other latex (non-gloves) products indicated lower growth at 7.3% as strong expansion in latex thread (47.4%) are offset by contractions in catheters, condoms, and foam products.
Mature market, new opportunities
The United States, Europe, and Japan dominated the consumption market of rubber products, accounting for about 50%. Last year, the United States imported RM22.8 billion worth of Malaysian rubber products, an increase of 76.5%.
Germany imports amounting to RM3.79 billion (57.9%), Japan RM3.2 billion (40.5%), Netherlands at RM1.76 billion (57%) and Italy at RM1.2 billion (42.2%) as compared to 2020.
Other major countriessuch as Canada, which showed an increase of 70.1% and Brazil (52.8%) are catching up.
“We will also seek for new markets in countries such as India, Africa, and Latin America, in addition to United States and Europe, because of their greater populations and promising commercial prospects.” said Malaysian Rubber Council (MRC) CEO, Nor Hizwan Ahmad.
As global populations grow rapidly and healthcare expenditure is indicating an upward trend, it is thus predicted that these countries will become a major force in driving future market expansion.
“The demand is largely driven by the global annual consumption of medical examination and surgical gloves from the healthcare industries, as well as the greater demand of cleanroom gloves from manufacturing industries,” Hizwan explained.
Outlook for 2022: Driving the growth of made-in Malaysia rubber products globally Hizwan also added that, MRC is driving market expansion through global and domestic promotion, commercialisation and investment, capacity building and talent development.
Among of the activities outlined to enhance the visibility of Malaysia Rubber products globally include participation in international trade shows, working visits, business matching, international seminars, ministerial missions, and conferences.
The most recent participation was during the Arab Health Exhibition held from January 24-27, 2022, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in which MRC has successfully facilitated 98 business matches with prospective buyers with total sales of RM110.5 million.
Hizwan highlighted the importance of participating in such events to promote sustainable Malaysian rubber products as well as to enhance the awareness of the international market on the high quality of our products.
According to him, it is timely for the rubber products industry to plan and implement a growth strategy beyond the pandemic.
“MRC is looking into new ventures based on the market demands. For example, engineered rubber products (ERP) including seismic bearings can be promoted to countries affected by earthquake such as Indonesia, Turkey and Egypt.” Hizwan added.
He also noted that retreading materials and rubber automotive components can be promoted to countries where the automotive industry is growing.
“Vietnam and Brazil are among the countries that can adopt our tyre retreading solutions for their commercial vehicles.”
“Pakistan is also a market that can be penetrated as their healthcare industry is showing growth, hence, opportunity for us to further promote our rubber medical devices such as medical gloves and foley catheters,” said Hizwan.
Hizwan also remarked on the significant progress made in the Malaysia’s rubber sector and MRC will not rest on theirlaurels.
“We must be vigilant of the market trend and needs and be ready to embrace change, especially through innovation and adoption of advanced technology,” he added.
“Transformation of the commodity into a high value-added industry that keeps pace with advancement of technology and needs of the market requires unanimous efforts.
“With government support and industry players commitment, we will ensure that issues and challenges within the rubber industry are also addressed and wider range of made in Malaysia rubber products are known to the rest of the world,” concluded Hizwan.