The world’s largest producer of natural rubber, Thailand, is likely to see higher shipments of rubber from the increased demand for rubber gloves and tyres, as well as the government’s proactive approach to promote rubber exports. Commerce Minister Jurin Laksanawisit said Thailand’s rubber products are expected to fetch THB 359 billion (US$ 11.58 billion) this year, 3.19 % higher than 2019, largely due to the global economic recovery after lockdown measures to curb the coronavirus.
The Commerce Ministry reported that prices of rubber sheet, block, and latex have all risen from the same period of last year. As of 30 September 2020, domestic raw rubber sheet prices were quoted at THB 56 (US$1.81) per kilogramme year-on-year, while the free-on-board (FOB) rubber smoked sheet prices were THB 63.15 (US$2.04) per kilogramme.
In the first seven months of 2020, Thailand’s rubber glove exports surged 38.5 % year-on-year to US$959 million thanks to the soaring demand for protective gloves for use against the coronavirus. Key markets include the US, China, Japan, and Britain. Thailand fetched US$1.2 billion from rubber glove exports over the whole of 2019, with exports making up 89% of total production.
Sukatus Tarngwiriyakul, Deputy Governor of the Rubber Authority of Thailand, said the proportion of domestic rubber consumption is likely to stay at 16% this year, up from 15% last year, boosted mainly by the government’s para-soil cement road construction in 45 provinces nationwide and rubber barriers and guideposts. The government is also committed to promoting domestic rubber consumption to comprise as much as 20% of the country’s production next year.
Thailand currently ranks fourth for exports of rubber products and processed rubber, after China, Germany and the US. Exports totalled US$ 11.2 billion last year for markets that include the US, China, Japan, and Australia. Automotive tyres account for 51% of the shipments, followed by synthetic rubber (19%) and rubber gloves (11%).