Top supplier Malaysia sees no quick end to shortages in $8bn gloves industry

A couple wearing face masks amid the coronavirus pandemic attend their wedding ceremony at a mosque in Banda Aceh. (AFP)
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Updated 05 June 2020

Top supplier Malaysia sees no quick end to shortages in $8bn gloves industry

  • The global disposable gloves market was valued at $7.6 billion last year and is expected to reach $11.8 billion by 2025

KUALA LUMPUR: A global shortage of medical gloves due to a coronavirus-driven surge in demand will carry over into next year, Malaysia, the world’s biggest gloves supplier, said on Thursday, warning buyers to be wary of scammers promising quick supplies.

World consumption of the personal protective equipment is estimated to jump more than 11 percent to 330 billion pieces this year, two thirds of which are likely to be supplied by Malaysia, its rubber glove manufacturers association (MARGMA) said.

It recently received more than a dozen reports of frauds and fake agents claiming to represent member companies for glove supplies. Counterfeit company letters were produced to appoint bogus agents or potential customers were quoted “ridiculous” prices with a promise to cut short delivery time.

“Buyers are reminded that while glove prices have soared and demand is overwhelming, the industry’s supply is being fully booked until early next year,” MARGMA President Denis Low said in a statement.

“MARGMA foresees the shortage of gloves due to overwhelming demand this year to spill into 2021.”

The global disposable gloves market was valued at $7.6 billion last year and is expected to reach $11.8 billion by 2025, according to VynZ Research.

MARGMA, whose members include top-two players Top Glove Corp. and Supermax Corp, also said worker safety and welfare were being monitored “critically” as pressure increases to step up production.

Last week, a group of European politicians urged the European Union trade commissioner to make sure higher demand does not become an excuse for exploiting workers, who come mainly from Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal.

The US in March lifted a ban on imports from Malaysian glove maker WRP Asia Pacific after accusing it of using forced labor.

Developed economies, home to only a fifth of the world’s population, account for nearly 70 percent glove demand due to their stringent medical standards. 


Ski resorts out in the cold as France eases lockdown

Updated 44 min 43 sec ago

Ski resorts out in the cold as France eases lockdown

  • Frustrated resort operators count the cost of holiday season restrictions

MEGEVE, France:  Megeve, in the foothills of Mont Blanc, was gearing up to welcome back skiers before Christmas after a COVID-19 lockdown was eased.

But France’s government — while allowing cinemas, museums and theaters to reopen from Dec. 15 — says its ski slopes must stay off limits until 2021, leaving those who make their living in the Alpine village frustrated and, in some cases, perplexed.

“When you’re outside, when you’re doing sport outdoors, that’s not the moment when you’re going to give COVID-19 to someone. COVID-19 is passed on in enclosed places,” said Pierre de Monvallier, director of ski school Oxygene, which operates in several resorts including Megeve.

Announcing a phased easing of the lockdown on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron said it was “impossible to envisage” re-opening ski slopes for Christmas and New Year, and that he preferred instead to do so during January.

“It felt like the door had been slammed in our face,” said Catherine Jullien-Breches, the mayor of Megeve, whose green slopes are generally covered with snow by mid-December.

“Unfortunately it’s a real drama for the economies of the villages and the winter sports resorts.”

People who live within 20 km of France’s Alpine resorts will able to visit from this weekend, but with the lifts staying shut, the main draw is missing.

“It’s like going on holiday on the Cote d’Azur and being told the sea is off limits,” said David Le Scouarnec, co-owner of Megeve’s Cafe 2 la Poste.

The problem for the resorts — and the hotels, restaurants, and workers who depend on them for their livelihood — is that their season is short, and they will have little time after the New Year to claw back lost revenue.

Other European authorities are wrestling with the same problem. Italy’s resorts regions are seeking approval for restricted skiing, but Austria, whose biggest cluster of the first wave of the pandemic was at the ski resort of Ischgl — where thousands were infected — is skeptical.

Prevarication cuts little ice, however, with Mathieu Dechavanne, Chairman and CEO of Compagnie du Mont-Blanc, which operates cable cars at Megeve and other resorts.

He said who could not understand why the government allowed trains and metros to operate, but barred him from re-opening. “It’s like we’re being punished. We don’t deserve this. We’re ready.”