Singapore – The International Rubber Study Group (IRSG) foresees a significant recovery in global natural rubber (NR) and synthetic rubber (SR) markets in 2021 – from the big declines seen last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In the December 2020 edition of its World Rubber Industry Outlook (WRIO), the Singapore-based industry body estimates that total global rubber demand will rebound by 7.1% in 2021.
This compares to a year-on-year decline of 8.0% in overall rubber demand, to around 26.5 million tonnes, estimated for 2020.
World NR demand is expected to fall by 8.1% in 2020, reaching 12.53 million tonnes and projected to rebound by 7.0% in 2021 – helped by strong recovery in the commercial vehicle segment in mature and emerging markets.
World SR demand is expected to decline by 7.9% reaching 13.97 million tonnes in 2020 and is forecast to recover by 7.2% in 2021.
For 2020, global rubber demand from the tire sector is expected to contract by 10.2%, compared to a fall of just 5.0% in the non-tire products sector.
The non-tire sector, noted IRSG, is being supported by a rapid surge in demand for gloves and other rubber products from the global healthcare industry.
Nevertheless, the pandemic the continuing to exert substantial pressure on world economies.
“Targeted containment measures on resurgence/mutation of virus is stalling the rebound and daily measures on mobility remain below the pre-Covid level,” noted IRSG.
According to the report, stronger rubber demand in China, driven by vehicle sales in OE and replacement markets helped to ‘soften’ the contraction in 2020.
World NR production is expected to decline by 5.9% in 2020, said IRSG. Tapping-days lost due to extreme weather, leaf fall disease and labour shortages during the pandemic disrupted production in major producing countries in south east Asia, it noted.
On the other hand, IRSG, said steady production growth from Mekong countries and Ivory Coast is likely to help offset some of the NR production losses seen elsewhere.