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Markets, News

Estimated world production of natural rubber in the third quarter of 1990 was 1.235 million metric tons, which was 65,000 metric tons, 5% less than the output of 1.3 million metric tons in the third quarter of 1989. Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and rest of world showed quarterly declines in production of 15,800; 15,000; 3,100; 700; and 37,800 metric tons, respectively. Thailand's estimated production of 310,000 metric tons in the third quarter of 1990 was 7,400 mt more than the figure in the third quarter of 1989, an increase of about 2.5%. Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia together produced about 968,900 metric tons of rubber in the third quarter of 1990, or 78.5% of the world total. For the first nine months of 1990, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand together are estimated to have produced about 2.745 million mt of NR, around 75.3% of the world output for the period. Meanwhile, total rubber consumption continued to slow down in the second quarter of 1990. Uptake in the first half of the year, at 7.83 million mt, was 1.3% less than in the like period in 1989. Countries which had shown a decline in the first quarter continued the trend in the second quarter - these included the USA, France and some other Western European countries, Latin America and some Asian countries.

The biggest drop in rubber usage during the first half of 1990 was registered by the USA, where consumption was down 11.9% year-on-year at 1,372,900 mt. In Eastern Europe, rubber usage dropped by 0.2% from that of the first half of 1989 to 1,720,000 mt, while uptake in the major consuming countries of the Far East remained strong. The big drop in total rubber usage by other Asian countries during the period was rather puzzling, because most of them, the NR producing countries in particular, have registered very vigorous growth, well above the world average rate, in recent years.

Natural rubber's performance during the second quarter of 1990 was poor, with consumption showing its first decline since the first quarter of 1986. The total uptake of NR for January to June was 2,640,000 mt, down 2% year-on-year. Except in the case of Italy, NR demand by all major consumers in the west declined. Fortunately, demand for NR in Asia continued to grow. Asia as a whole accounted for 48.1% of the world's NR consumption during the first six months of 1990, followed by Western Europe with 19.9% and the USA with 16.1%. Eastern Europe accounted for only 5.7%. The fastest annual rate of increase in total rubber usage in Asia during the period was probably Malaysia's 22.3%, followed by South Korea's 19.2% and India's 7.9%. In NR usage Malaysia registered a rise of 22.7%, Korea 18.2% and India 9.1%. The world's biggest NR consumer, the USA, showed a 7% drop.

* A study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reveals new evidence that workers directly exposed to two rubber chemicals - ortho-toluidine and aniline - have an increased risk of developing bladder cancer than the general population. The NIOSH study was based on information gathered from 1,749 people employed at Goodyear Tire & Rubber's Niagara Falls, NY plant. The study found that of the total number of people ever employed there, 13 cases of bladder cancer were observed, compared to the 3.6 estimated cases that would be expected in a random sample from the general population. Among 708 workers "definitely exposed" to ortho-toluidine and aniline, seven had bladder cancer, 6.48 times the expected average.

In response to the findings, the institute alerted more than 200 companies that make or use the chemicals, and contacted the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, prompting it to implement tighter workplace exposure limits. Currently, workplace exposure limits are set at 5 parts per million for ortho-toluidine and 2 ppm for aniline. NIOSH has suggested that OSHA reduce exposure limits to the "lowest feasible concentration."

* Performance tires, which provided growth opportunity to a sluggish tire industry during the late 1980s, will continue to play a major marketing role in the 1990s, according to Goodyear. Between 1985 and 1990, the market for replacement performance tires more than tripled, from 12 million to 39 million tires annually, the Goodyear report said.

By 1995, the number of replacement performance tires sold is expected to reach 52 million units. As performance tires increase in popularity, tiremakers will move to fill various market niches, Goodyear predicts. In 1991, replacement performance tires are projected to hit 42 million units, about 27% of the total industry replacement radial mix. The term "performance tire is being used in an expanded fashion. The tire industry often classifies tires in the performance market purely as a function of size, Goodyear stated.

Table : Estimated world NR production third quarter 1989 and 1990 (|000 m tons)
Country 3/89 3/90 Diff. % Diff.
Malaysia 374.7 358.9 -15.8 -4.22
Indonesia 315.0 300.0 -15.0 -4.76
Thailand 302.6 310.0 +7.4 +2.45
India 68.1 65.0 -3.1 -4.55
Sri Lanka 25.7 25.0 -0.7 -2.72
Rest of World 213.9 176.1 -37.8 -17.67
Total 1,300.0 1,235.0 -65.0 -5.00

Table : World rubber consumption, second quarter 1990
|000 tonnes % [change.sup.a] |000 tonnes % [change.sup.a]
USA 1,372.9 -11.9 425.4 -7.0
UK 196.0 +1.3 68.5 -2.1
France 280.5 -6.0 90.4 -5.6
West Germany 363.4 +3.7 106.3 -4.4
Italy n/a - 75.0 +4.2
Other W. Europe 516.0 -1.9 186.0 -1.1
Eastern Europe 1,720.0 -0.2 150.0 -8.0
India 219.7 +7.9 175.4 +9.1
Japan 894.0 +2.9 334.2 +3.0
China 478.0 +3.5 310.0 0.0
South Korea 264.7 +19.2 126.2 +18.2
Asia (b) 495.3 -7.9 323.9 -9.8
Latin America (c) 222.0 -7.1 96.0 +3.2
Africa 122.0 +5.2 60.0 +3.4
All others n/a - 112.8 -16.7
World Total 7,830.0 -1.3 2,640.0 -2.0

(a) - % change from corresponding quarter 1989 (b) - excluding Japan, China, India and South Korea (c) - excluding Brazil
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Title Annotation:estimated world production of natural rubber
Publication:Rubber World
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jun 1, 1991
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