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Malaysian Natural Rubber Production Holds Firm; Unified Efforts to Boost Output

    Malaysia has been working hard to maintain steady rubber production in hopes of a gradual increase. This effort has paid off, especially with rubber prices rising recently due to Thailand’s lower-than-expected performance. Over six months leading up to January 2024, Malaysia consistently produced over 30,000 tons of natural rubber (NR), and the government is now eager to develop more areas for rubber cultivation that haven’t been used yet.

    In January 2024, Malaysia produced slightly less NR compared to December 2023, but there was still a 2.8% increase compared to January the previous year. Most of Malaysia’s NR production in January came from smallholders, with estates contributing a smaller portion.

    Ivory Coast continued to be a major source of rubber imports to Malaysia, accounting for over a third of total imports in January. However, overall imports decreased compared to December 2023, with Thailand and Myanmar also contributing significant shares.

    Malaysia exported less NR in January 2024 compared to December 2023, with China being the primary importer. Domestic consumption of rubber decreased in January, with the majority being used for rubber gloves. The total NR stocks increased in January 2024 compared to December 2023, mostly held by rubber processors’ factories. The price of SMR 20 rubber increased since January.

    The Malaysian government is concerned about the large areas of untapped rubber estates, which are causing significant losses to the economy. Efforts are underway to make these areas productive, including addressing leaf fall disease and labour shortages. A plan created by various government bodies and private businesses aims to consolidate and modernise rubber production to ultimately increase efficiency and output.

    The Malaysian Ministry of Plantation and Commodities is working with other countries to establish a Livelihood Rubber Price Mechanism for smallholders, considering rising production costs and living expenses.

    Though Malaysia is a relatively small contribution to global rubber production today, it’s legacy as the world’s largest producer in the 1960-70s has ensured its government’s involvement in discussions with other producing countries to address common challenges in the rubber industry.