With SE Asia Recovering from COVID, Glove Capacity Will Return

Southeast Asia is starting to recover from its COVID surge of 2021.

Factories have reopened and production is picking up in major manufacturing areas of Southeast Asia as COVID-19 cases have dropped in recent weeks. This has eased some of the supply-chain constraints that companies blame for lost sales.

While this does not mean that makers of disposable gloves are back to full production yet, it does hint that the industry is trending in the right direction. In Malaysia, which produces nearly 80% of the world’s disposable gloves, efforts to transition its workforce from imported foreign labor to hiring local workers and emphasizing automation are well under way.

Analysts expect glove supply—and pricing—to be volatile for the rest of 2021 and well into 2022. More nitrile gloves will enter the market in Q1, demand will remain strong, and the supply chain will continue to significantly impact availability.

Production of vinyl gloves, which come mostly from China, have been limited by that nation’s energy crunch and continuing supply woes. Observers anticipate that vinyl prices will be higher come January 2022, so this is a good time to stock up on vinyl.

Slowly winning the battle with COVID

Southeast Asia is getting some relief after a difficult year marked by an explosion of coronavirus cases. Asian governments are gradually relaxing social distancing rules for fear of seeing more spikes in infections, as both the U.S. and Britain experienced (and Europe is currently enduring).

Malaysia’s economy is expected to gain momentum, expanding by 4.0% in the current three-month period as a ramped-up vaccination drive, a record government budget to spur post-pandemic recovery, and gradual reopening have boosted hopes of a turnaround.

Despite concerns over a rise in cases last week, 76% of the country’s total population has been fully vaccinated and 78.5% has received at least one dose, according to health ministry data. As a region Southeast Asia has struggled to play catch-up with vaccinations, but Malaysia has achieved admirable results.

Economic growth is projected

The government expects Malaysia’s economy to grow 5.5%-6.5% next year, driven by normalization of economic activity, resumption of projects, higher commodity prices, and strong external demand.

All this is good news, but it does not guarantee long-term stability for the disposable glove market. Too many factors can throw a proverbial wrench in the works, and the supply chain’s unpredictability will likely continue to result in fluctuating prices and inconsistent deliveries.

In the months ahead, AMMEX will keep you in the loop. Come back to this space weekly for updates on products and the disposable glove market. Remember: Anybody can sell you gloves. Our goal is to help you sell more gloves.

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