Malaysia’s rubber gloves makers say ready to meet coronavirus needs – dpa international

dpa

Gloves being worn at Kuala Lumpur supermarket on March 17 2020, the day before the national lockdown due to coronavirus (Simon Roughneen)

Gloves being worn at Kuala Lumpur supermarket on March 17 2020, the day before the national lockdown due to coronavirus (Simon Roughneen)

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s rubber gloves manufacturers say they are gearing up to meet growing global demand for surgical and medical gloves spurred by the coronavirus pandemic and have appealed to the government not to curtail their operations during a partial lockdown scheduled to run from Wednesday until the end of March.

“We shall re-strategize to ensure supply is adequate, at least to those severely affected areas,” said Denis Low, president of the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA), an industry association, in a Tuesday statement.

Malaysia, the world’s biggest supplier of rubber gloves, has seen 673 confirmed cases of coronavirus and two deaths.

A recent spike in cases prompted the government to state that most businesses – except shops like grocery and corner stores – would be forced to lock up during the lockdown.

On Tuesday, MARGMA said it is “seeking the government’s understanding that the service providers and raw materials and packaging suppliers to the Rubber Glove Industry to be allowed to operate too as without the raw materials, chemicals, and packaging materials, freight and logistics services, it would be impossible for gloves to be produced.”

MARGMA believes that due to coronavirus, demand for rubber gloves will rise from 298 billion pieces in 2019 to 345 billion this year, with Malaysian manufacturers ready to supply 65 per cent of global needs.

Manufacturers have reported a surge in demand from China and other Asian countries since the onset of the pandemic in January and leading manufacturers have seen their share prices rise on the Malaysian stock exchange, which otherwise has been trending down as the economic impact of the pandemic spreads.

On Friday, Malaysia’s Statistics Department reported that Malaysian natural rubber production rose 13.3 per cent in January compared with December. Some 75 per cent of Malaysia’s natural rubber used domestically is for the manufacturing of gloves, the department says.

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