Rubber products' exports growth to rebound in 2020, says MREPC

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KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 10): The growth of rubber products exports is expected to return to positive in 2020, contributed mainly by the increase in capacity and production of major glove players, as well as new investments in the dry rubber sector, specifically tyres, automotive parts and industrial goods, according to the Malaysian Rubber Export Promotion Council (MREPC).

It said the unexpected surge in demand for rubber gloves due to the Wuhan novel coronavirus outbreak will support the growth of the overall rubber products exports in 2020.

“The current outbreak could have the same impact on glove demand, as the previous SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak which led to an increase in exports of rubber gloves by eight per cent year-on-year in 2003,” the council said in a statement.

For the January-November 2019 period, total exports of rubber products fell 2.1% to RM21.2 billion, from RM21.6 billion recorded for the same period in 2018. The industry also saw lower imports in 2019, with a major decrease of 8.1% year-on-year (y-o-y).

Moving forward, MREPC said the rubber products industry will capitalise on the growing demand for rubber products from the global healthcare sector and the predicted improvements in economic performance in emerging markets in Latin America, the Middle East, as well as emerging and developing Europe.

“In view of the negative export trend to China in 2019, MREPC will intensify its promotional activities in the country in 2020 to enhance awareness of Malaysian products.

“Besides its usual participation in major exhibitions related to rubber products, MREPC will conduct a working visit focusing on the automotive sector in March 2020,” it said.

The MREPC Strategic Plan 2021-2025 has identified key products to be prioritised by the council, considering the potential growth in demand and the manufacturing capabilities of Malaysian industry.

The prioritised products are gloves, other medical devices such as condoms and catheters, engineered rubber products, automotive products including precured treads, as well as foam products.

The strategic plan unveils five core strategies to enhance exports of rubber products.

The strategies are developing new B2B branding; facilitating joint ventures and partnerships in automotive parts production; conducting an export pathfinder programme for the automotive sector; increasing domestic market share of small and medium enterprises’ products; and assisting new companies and start-ups to grow and start exporting.

With these strategies, the council is confident that the export target of RM34 billion by 2025 for Malaysian rubber products is achievable.