World Rubber Consumption to Increase 4% Annually to 2011
Global consumption of rubber is forecast to rise by 4 per cent annually in the next few years, to 26.5 million tonnes in 2011. This growth stems from robust worldwide motor vehicle production as well as a strong global economy, and consumption will continue to be dominated by the US, Japan and, increasingly, China. This third country has become the world’s leading rubber consumer, overtaking the US as number one in 2001. China will continue to streak ahead in terms of consumption, however the double-digit growth enjoyed between 2001 and 2006 will reduce considerably as its domestic market matures and motor vehicle production decelerates. Demand for tyre rubber also remains strong, yet is slower than in previous years.
The growing tyre industries in the Asia Pacific region is one factor fuelling above average forecasted increases for consumption in this region. North America, Western Europe and Japan will all experience gains below the global average, as vehicle related industries in each of these regions have weakened and competition from regions with lower labour or material overheads has intensified. In spite of this, extensive tyre and vehicle industries in the US and Japan assure that these countries will remain leading markets.
Demand for both natural and synthetic rubber will increase, but the division of the market will remain essentially unchanged, with synthetic rubber continuing to hold approximately 55 per cent of demand and natural rubber holding the remaining 45 per cent. Non-tyre rubber consumption will outpace demand for tyre rubber through to 2011, based on a favourable outlook for mid-range elastomers used in components such as hoses, belts, gaskets and weather-stripping. Tyre rubber demand will benefit from the popularity of performance tyres, whose shorter than average service life stimulates replacement demand.