KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—World production of natural rubber stood at 2.99 million metric tons in the first quarter of 2019, down 5.2 percent from the 3.15 million tons reported in the same period in 2018, according to the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries.
A long wintering season and low prices in some countries helped cause the decrease, ANRPC Secretary General Nguyen Ngoc Bich said in the March 2019 issue of the ANRPC newsletter, Natural Rubber Trends & Statistics.
"The new leaf fall disease in South Sumatra might also have contributed to the drop," Nguyen wrote in a letter at the beginning of the report.
World consumption of NR also fell, but much less, according to the ANRPC. Consumption fell 0.4 percent in the first quarter, to 3.38 million metric tons from 3.39 million the year before.
NR prices increased somewhat in the first three months of 2019, and now hover around $1.45 per kilogram, according to Nguyen.
On the other hand, concerns over U.S.-China trade negotiations have created global uncertainty that soon could translate into volatility in the NR market, Nguyen said. Price increases for NR did not match those in the crude oil market, he said.
Production during the quarter fell a sharp 17.6 percent in Thailand, the world's largest NR producer, according to the report. Production there was 1.02 million tons, compared with 1.24 million in the third quarter of 2018.
Malaysia, however, saw a 13.6 percent increase in production, to 187,000 tons from 165,000. Other big percentage increases were in Cambodia (up 36.8 percent) and Vietnam (up 15.9 percent).
Although NR demand in China rose only 0.5 percent in the firstquarter, it still accounted for nearly 40 percent of world demand, at 1.33 million tons, the ANRPC said.