Malaysia’s Rubber Products’ Exports Thrive Despite An Uncertain Economy

The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to exert pressure on all sectors of the economy; however,  Malaysia’s rubber products remain dominant in the third quarter of 2021, allowing the industry to continue to thrive and contribute to the country’s economy. Until October 2021, the overall exports of Rubber and Rubber Products increased by 70.7%, or about RM63.2 billion, as compared to RM37 billion within the same period in 2020. 

Large deployment of vaccination ramps up demand for medical gloves 

Latex goods sector continues to show strong performance amounting to RM51.4 billion, an increase 86.3% over the same period last year at RM27.6 billion. 

The sector maintained its pace as the leader of the rubber products exports from January to  October 2021, at 92.7%. Rubber gloves remain the highest earner with export revenue of almost  RM50 billion, an increase of almost 91% from the previous year. Medical gloves made up 40.1% of the latex goods sector amounting to RM22.2 billion. As countries are ramping up their vaccination programme, large-scale vaccine deployment is increasing the need for medical gloves such as examination gloves. 

The United States remains the largest market for Malaysian rubber products with a total export of RM 20.8 billion, an increase of 118.9% until October 2021 compared to the same period in  2020. Other key markets have also recorded an encouraging increase in export, namely Canada by 126.3%, Germany (99%), Netherlands (93.7%), Japan (72%), and Brazil (67.3%). 

Dry rubber products sector indicates positive growth  

The tyre industry was enhanced with the aim to diversify Malaysia’s export contribution of high-value products and increase the export performance of dry rubber products while simultaneously increasing the consumption of locally produced rubber. January – October 2021 saw an encouraging increase of tyres exports by 28.1%, compared to the same period last year amounting to almost RM1.4 billion. The United States remains as the country’s leading importer of tyres, an increase of 45.5% amounting to RM 0.6 billion, compared to the same period last year. 

Industrial rubber goods which comprise products for the automotive, mining and construction sectors(37.2%) and footwear (20%) also showed an encouraging increase within the same period compared to last year.

Resilience and resolute to elevate Malaysia’s rubber products 

“MRC has illustrated impeccable resilience and is able to adapt to any circumstances, thanks to  innovations and technology while striving to elevate the Malaysian rubber products and the  industry’s business to even greater heights.” Said Nor Hizwan Ahmad, MRC’s CEO. 

He said that the MRC plays a vital role in supporting the transition to a contemporary, high-value-added sector by providing the guidance and assistance needed by their stakeholders particularly the manufacturers. 

“MRC is pushing for industry players to move up the global value chain by introducing new channels and ideologies such as through collaborations with International Development  Organisations (IDOs).” shares Nor Hizwan Ahmad. Keeping growth in focus and to better prepare for the new post-pandemic economy, MRC’s role here is to assist companies in leveraging on the opportunities offered by the IDOs in terms of sales pipeline development, tender support and capacity building programmes.  

MRC has organised various webinars to assist companies and to expose them to the IDOs, the benefits of engaging with IDOs to explore business prospects, and the variations in financing flow for rubber medical devices and dry rubber products. The most recent webinar, organised on  October 20, 2021, was meant for rubber medical devices (RMD) companies to gain more information on IDO procurement opportunities, specifically on processes and requirements under the Global Fund’s COVID-19 Response programs and the African Medical Supplies  Platform. “Through this initiative, MRC has successfully assisted RMD companies to be included in the supply chain for the pandemic database of Asian Development Bank,” he adds. 

MRC will embark on a new initiative namely the Global Fund for Rubber Innovation (GFRI) to promote new ideas, innovations, and inventions with high commercial viability within the rubber industry. It is an RM10 million grant intended to seed innovative inter-disciplinary non-fundamental research with the potential to spur investments in high-value products and technologies within the rubber and rubber products industry. “We hope to create more value to  the industry by projecting more market opportunities through commercialisation and investment of the new and enhanced downstream rubber products and upstream/midstream equipment or technologies,” adds Nor Hizwan. 

“When it comes to rubber, No One Knows Rubber Like Malaysia,” he said, emphasising the importance of extensive experience, significant expertise, and in-depth knowledge in the development and production of rubber products for Malaysian manufacturers to soar in the global economy. 

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