KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC) has revised downward its demand forecast for NR for the fourth time this year, citing the continued economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In its May monthly update, the association lowered projections for both supply and demand, despite a slight recovery in prices at the end of April and the relaxation of COVID-19 containment measures.
Global demand is now expected to drop 6% this year from 2019 to 12.9 million metric tons, the ANRPC said, down from 13 million tons projected in April as well as down from 14 million tons forecast at the start of the year.
Production of NR is seen falling by another 303,000 tons from the most recent outlook, the ANRPC said, putting the 2020 expected total at 13.1 million tons, or 4.7% below 2019.
ANRPC Secretary General RB Premadasa said the group expects the market recovery to continue, "albeit at a slow pace and subject to a set of risk factors."
The pandemic, he went on to say, put the world rubber industry into "one of the worst crises in the past few decades," pushing the stakeholders in the whole value-chain into "chaos and hopelessness."
The pandemic has generated additional demand for NR in the production of latex 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, the ANRPC forecast 3.8% annual growth in NR production to 14.3 million tons. Demand was expected to grow 2.7% to 14 million tons.
Kuala Lumpur-based ANRPC is an inter-governmental organization open to the governments of countries producing natural rubber. The ANRPC has 13 members — Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam — which collectively account for over 90% of the global production of natural rubber.