Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok Suh Sim said the awareness in the importance of and demand for rubber gloves has been increasing as it was used as the first line of defence by medical personnel against various contagious disease as shown in the recent Ebola outbreak in Africa.
In 2018, Malaysia exported US$100 million (US$1=RM4.12) worth of rubber gloves to 49 out of 55 countries in the African continent, she said in her speech during the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA) networking dinner with the African Heads of Mission in Malaysia on Tuesday night.
"Exports to this continent has been growing and demand for gloves has been increasing amid the rising awareness of its importance.
"Malaysia is a friend to the African nations with strong diplomatic ties, hence industry players should continue the marketing efforts to enhance the positive relationship so that both parties can reap the benefits,” said Kok.
Meanwhile, MARGMA president Denis Low Jau Foo told Bernama that rubber glove exports to the continent is expected to increase by 50 per cent to about US$150 million this year.
He said Africa is a huge continent with a population of 1.2 billion people and has 22 diplomatic missions in Malaysia.
Out of the US$100 million worth of rubber glove exports to African countries last year, 72 per cent or US$72.2 million was in the form of medical gloves, followed by other natural rubber gloves and surgical gloves, he said, adding that Egypt, South Africa and Kenya were the top importing countries.
Low said as of July 18 this year, rubber gloves usage in Africa was low at only two pairs per capita, compared with China (5), Brazil (12), Europe (50) and the US (75).
"As such, the African continent has a high potential to become the new market for growth.
"With their new regulations, the rising healthcare awareness among the people and the increase in economic power, we expect to see a boost in the demand for healthcare products, including gloves,” he said.
Low said the global demand for rubber gloves this year is expected to increase by 12 per cent to 300 billion gloves with a projected export revenue of US$4.95 billion.
Malaysia is expected to have the largest market share of about 63 per cent ahead of Thailand (18 per cent) China (10 per cent) and Indonesia (three per cent). - Bernama
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