Malaysia's rubber exports are expected to expand by 10 per cent to RM14.3 billion this year, says Deputy Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk G. Palanivel.
"We should be able to do 10 per cent better than last year's RM12.96 billion as rubber prices are still relatively high.
"Although SMR 20 (price) has come down from a record high of RM17.70 per kg in mid-February, today, it is still trading above RM13 per kg," he said after officiating at the International Rubber Economic Conference 2011 here yesterday.
Citing numbers from the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries, Palanivel said global rubber demand is expected to be around 11.15 million tonnes, while output will only amount to 10.97 million tonnes.
In the first five months of this year, statistics from the Malaysian Rubber Board (MRB) showed that rubber product exports totalled RM5.69 billion.
"This is almost 10 per cent higher than RM5.20 billion recorded in the same period a year ago. So, we should be able to achieve the 10 per cent growth target to RM14.3 billion," said Palanivel.
On the status of land sale to facilitate the construction of Mass Rapid Transit project, he said 1,214ha of land in Sungai Buloh, Selangor, belonging to MRB has already been alienated to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), but the sale price has yet to be determined.
"The MRB has not signed the land sale agreements with EPF. Price negotiation is still ongoing, it should be finalised before year- end," he added.
MRB director-general Datuk Dr Salmiah Ahmad said at the press conference that the rubber sector contributes about 5 per cent to the country's export earnings.
In ensuring a more stable supply of latex to downstream businesses, the government is accelerating replanting and new plantings of rubber trees.
Starting 2012, the government intends to replant 40,000ha of land in a year, Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority senior assistant director of marketing division, Norhayati Abdul Gaffoor, said when met on the sidelines of the industry event.