According to news on December 17, 2020, 683,000 hectares of the 1.2 million hectares of rubber plantations in Malaysia are idle, compared with 380,760 hectares in 2010; it is understood that there is a lack of sufficient workers for maintenance. And more rubber tappers abandon their small plantations, movement restrictions and other things have become worse, which poses a threat to the country's status as a leading producer of natural rubber.
The Malaysian Rubber Plantation Association (NASH) stated that as movement restrictions have resulted in 50,000 hectares of rubber land being idled in 2020 alone, Malaysian rubber production (dry rubber and latex) has fallen sharply from 1.28 million tons in 2006 to 2019 639,830 tons per year.
The Malaysian government has made some efforts to increase rubber production, especially latex, and allocated 16 million ringgits to establish "latex production corridors" in traditionally non-rubber producing states such as Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan. Abdul Halim Hassan, a member of the Nash Supreme Council, said that this kind of funding seems infeasible if the oversupply is not addressed and the import of cheap natural rubber is not restricted. The supply of low-priced latex is abundant and increasing, especially in Thailand (estimated to produce 1.2 million tons of latex per year) and Vietnam. At the same time, the domestic downstream industries can obtain unlimited and cheaper imported natural rubber from Thailand and Vietnam, especially latex used to make gloves.
He said that gloves and other latex-based products need to guarantee long-term supply, and local manufacturers are seeking to ensure supply from other sources to maintain their business. In addition, fluctuations in raw material prices and increased latex allergies have led to increased demand for synthetic substitutes, which poses a threat to natural rubber.
Medical gloves are made of natural rubber latex or synthetic rubber latex. Initially, most medical gloves were made based on natural rubber latex. However, due to the increase in allergies to natural rubber latex in the United States and other major importing countries, more and more buyers choose to order gloves made of synthetic rubber latex. The demand has created a further threat.