Kuala Lumpur – The Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC) has revised down its natural rubber (NR) production and consumption projections for a third time this year, citing the ‘turbulent’ impact of Covid-19 pandemic.
In its latest monthly update, issued 6 May, the association lowered its 2020 production estimate to 13.433 million tonnes, down 2.3% from the previous year
The revised figure is 679,000 tonnes lower than predicted in the outlook presented a month ago – 14.112 million tonnes at 2.2% growth.
According to ANRPC’s latest figures, global NR production fell 3.6% year-on-year to 2.9 million tonnes during the first three months of the year.
The association noted a “more severe [Covid] impact” in April, adding that preliminary estimates by member states suggested a 6.4% overall fall in production to 5.6 million tonnes in the first half.
ANRPC also lowered its projections for world consumption in 2020, at 13.016 million tonnes down 5.1% from the previous year.
The figure is 516,000 tonnes lower than last month’s outlook forecast of 13.532 million tonnes, at 1.5% negative growth.
ANRPC said it scaled down the outlook on NR consumption “in light of the emerging global economic trends and the grim prospects of businesses worldwide.”
Based on preliminary estimates, world consumption of NR fell 20.0% year-on-year during the first quarter and is anticipated to register a 15.5% drop during the first half of the year.
The pandemic, according to ANRPC, has generated additional demand for NR in the manufacturing of gloves and other rubber-based healthcare products, especially in Malaysia and Thailand.
This trend, it noted, is helping to partially offset the fall in demand from the automotive and tire segments.
In January, ANRPC forecast 3.8% annual growth in NR production to 14.3 million tonnes. Demand was expected to grow 2.7% to 14.0 million tonnes.