Kuala Lumpur - World production of natural rubber (NR) stood at 2.99 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2019, down 5.2% from the same period in 2018, according to the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC).
A long wintering season and low prices in some countries helped cause the decrease, ANRPC Secretary General Nguyen Ngoc Bich said in the March 2019 issue of the ANRPC newsletter, published 21 May.
"The new leaf fall disease in South Sumatra might also have contributed to the drop," Nguyen wrote in a letter at the beginning of the report.
World consumption of NR also fell, but at a lower pace, according to the ANRPC.
Consumption fell 0.4% in the third quarter, to 3.38 million tonnes from 3.39 million tonnes the year before.
NR prices increased somewhat in the first three months of 2019, and now hover around $1.45 per kilogramme, according to Nguyen.
On the other hand, concerns over US-China trade negotiations have created global uncertainty that soon could translate into volatility in the NR market. P
rice increases for NR did not match those in the crude oil market, he said.
In Thailand, the world's largest NR producer, production fell 17.7% from 1.24 million tonnes in the third quarter of 2018 to 1.02 million tonnes in the first quarter of 2019.
Malaysia, however, saw a 13.6% increase in production, to 187,000 tonnes from 165,000. Other big percentage increases were in Cambodia (up 36.8%) and Vietnam (up 15.9%).