THE RUBBER industry retained its pole position in 2021 i Malaysia compared with other commodities, notching impressive growth and contribution to the country’s coffers as demand and production of rubber gloves were largely unperturbed by Covid-19 containment measures. Malaysia is the world’s leading producer of medical gloves and the demand for the products has turbo-charged the industry to dizzying heights. It has met 68% of the global demand for this necessity for the past 30 years and for 2021 and it is estimated to supply 280 billion pieces of rubber gloves. The year saw new players joining the bandwagon to tap into new opportunities by venturing into rubber glove production despite the fact that the average selling price (ASP) is expected to fall further by 30% to 50% amid increasing market competition. As in 2020, the forced-labour issue continued to haunt the industry this year. The Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association has stepped up its effort by giving its commitment to eradicate such practices which had tainted the industry’s image in the last two years. Burgeoning demand saw exports of the rubber products as of October rise 55% to RM71bil from the same period in 2019 and for the whole year, it is expected to reach RM82bil, up by 38%, versus RM59.4bil in 2020. Out of that, natural rubber contributed RM7bil (8.5%), rubber products RM63bil (77%), other rubber RM2.5bil (3%), and heveawood RM9.5bil (11.5%). According to the Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB), the rubber product sector plays an important role in generating high export value due to the surge in global demand for rubber gloves to curb the Covid-19 pandemic. For the first nine months of 2021, rubber production amounted to 354,359 tonnes or about 5% lower than in the corresponding period of 2020. Source of article: The Star.