KUALA LUMPUR — World production of natural rubber totaled 2.14 million metric tons in the first two months of 2019, down 5.8 percent from January-February 2018, according to the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries.
The recent tropical storm in Thailand and early wintering of Hevea trees among ANRPC member countries contributed to the decline in NR production, said ANRPC Secretary General Nguyen Ngoc Bich in his preface to the association's February 2019 edition of Natural Rubber Trends & Statistics.
A new and serious fungal leaf-fall disease that appeared in Sumatra also hurt production, Mr. Nguyen said in the report issued April 19.
World NR demand decreased marginally in the two-month period, to 2.17 million tons, according to Nguyen.
Despite worries over a slower Chinese economy and general global economic growth, the rubber market has been bolstered by optimism over ongoing trade deals between China and the U.S., as well as unchanged interest rates from the Federal Reserve, he said.
NR Prices rallied in futures markets during February, according to Nguyen. The effort to keep prices up continues with the decision of the International Tripartite Rubber Council — consisting of Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia — to continue curbing NR exports, as well as OPEC's decision to cut oil exports, he said.
NR production fell 20 percent in Thailand in January-February, to 766,000 tons, according to the ANRPC. However, this partially was offset by production increases in Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia, it said