Strong prices, and international interest in eco-friendly produce, have helped Malaysia's rubber industry increase its exports by 30% last year
Established on 1 January 1998, the Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) is a government body which oversees all aspects of rubber production and exporting in Malaysia. While it once comprised of a trinity of agencies – the Rubber Research Institute Malaysia (RRIM), the Malaysian Rubber Research and Development Board (MRRDB) and the Malaysian Rubber Exchange and Licensing Board (MRELB) – the separate bodies have now been merged into one.
After a three decade slump, the Malaysian rubber industry is on the up once again, with rubber exports increasing by 30% to RM32 billion last year. Datuk Dr. Salmiah Ahmad, the Director General of the MRB recently stated that “We’ve seen more enquiries and a renewed interest in rubber,” and estimated that around 5,000 hectares of oil palm estates and small holdings were converted to rubber plantations in 2010.
“R&D (Research and Development) is our main focus, and when we talk about it, we look at all the sectors that are within the rubber industry... our strategy is to produce high value-added products, and to supply a high value raw material that can be used to produce high value materials. We anticipate people wanting green materials in the future. So we will supply the green raw material to all these countries.”
Today, the Malaysian rubber industry produces a broad range of products from natural rubber including latex products, tyres and tubes, industrial and general rubber products, and footwear as well as rubber wood products. The country remains the world’s leading producer and exporter of natural rubber medical gloves, catheters and latex thread.