Nor Hizwan Ahmad

Chief Executive Officer
Malaysian Rubber Council (MRC)

Tell us about your organisation and its journey to date.

The Malaysian Rubber Council (MRC), formerly known as Malaysian Rubber Export Promotion Council, was incorporated on April 14, 2000 under the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC). MRC is governed by a Board of Trustees appointed by the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC). MRC is tasked with undertaking market promotion of quality Malaysian rubber and rubber products in world markets and has overseas offices in the US, China, India, Europe, and the Middle East.

How has the organisation evolved to address the challenges of an ever-changing healthcare sector? Please list some accomplishments.

MRC is facilitating the expansion of the rubber and rubber products market through global and domestic promotions, commercialisations and investments, as well as capacity building and talent development. Among the activities outlined to promote Malaysian rubber products is organising and taking part in international promotional activities such as trade shows, working visits, business matching, international seminars, ministerial missions, and conferences – as a way to remind the international market of high-quality made-in-Malaysia rubber products.

To heighten the effort in penetrating untapped international markets, MRC launched a Global Branding Campaign 2022 (GBC). This initiative aims to ensure that made-in-Malaysia rubber products have a brand presence and impactful advertising for our rubber products globally. This branding campaign, which consists of various online and offline media, targets both domestic and international target audiences, including the Middle East region. Besides focusing on medical gloves for the Global Branding Campaign (GBC), this campaign also focuses on rubber medical devices, carrying the tagline – No One Knows Rubber Like Malaysia Does — that will highlight the strength of Malaysian rubber products and industry in the areas of expertise, quality, sustainability, a wide range of products, as well as R&D skills.

Through this new and improved branding concept, MRC aims to create an appreciation for Malaysia’s rubber and rubber products, which have been contributing to the country’s economy long before independence. We hope our efforts will help humanise rubber products and encourage more buy-ins from local and global audiences.

Give us an insight into your portfolio and solutions targeted at the Middle East region.

  • Export Performance in the MENA Region
    Malaysia exported rubber products worth US$120.3 million to the MENA region in the first half of 2022. Rubber gloves were one of the top three exports valued at a total of US$99.3 million, which makes up 41.4 per cent of the total export.  As for other rubber medical devices that were exported to the MENA region, the export performance for condoms increased by 30.5 per cent with a total amount of US$2.9 million comparing to the same corresponding period in 2021 of US$2.2 million.
  • High-Quality Rubber Medical Devices
    Malaysia produces the best quality rubber and rubber products ‒ from raw rubber materials to a wide range of finished rubber products ‒ that consistently meet stringent international standards. Today, Malaysian manufacturers supply a wide array of world-class rubber products to countries worldwide. Exported to 195 countries, Malaysian rubber gloves are trusted by health workers and frontliners worldwide for consistent quality and reliability. Malaysian gloves have been protecting millions of frontliners’ hands from the spread of infectious diseases, especially the most recent widespread scare ‒ COVID-19 and the variants that come after. Good barrier properties are crucial in preventing the transmission of pathogens from patients to healthcare workers and vice versa; therefore, all medical glove manufacturers in Malaysia, including the re-packers of bulk medical gloves, strictly adhere to good manufacturing practices that emphasise quality, hygiene, product integrity, and accountability.
  • MRC Marketplace
    We at MRC, as well as the rest of the world, have realised by now that the pandemic has altered and redefined globalisation. Thus, there is a need to address the next steps in the post-pandemic era.  One thing for certain is technology plays a big part in the growth of industries including the rubber industry. Therefore, MRC Marketplace is a buyer-seller website that has been around for more than 10 years and provides the contact details of all Malaysian rubber and rubber product manufacturers and traders that can be accessed through MRC website. Regardless of geographical boundaries, this platform is built to reach a wider market for made-in-Malaysia rubber products. Buyers can reach out and source trusted sellers of high-quality rubber medical devices through the MRC Marketplace. 

Tell us about your recent and upcoming investments and partnerships in this field.

MRC has illustrated impeccable resilience and is able to adapt to any circumstances, thanks to innovations and technology while striving to elevate Malaysian rubber products and the industry’s business to even greater heights. We play a vital role in supporting the transition to a contemporary, high-value-added sector by providing the guidance and assistance needed by our stakeholders, particularly the manufacturers. With the fast-moving transition globally, MRC is pushing for industry players to move up the global value chain by introducing new channels and ideologies such as through collaborations with International Development Organisations (IDOs). Keeping growth in focus and better prepared for the post-pandemic economy, MRC’s role here is to assist companies in leveraging on the opportunities offered by the IDOs in terms of sales pipeline development, tender support, and capacity building programmes. 

MRC will continue to organise various webinars to assist companies and expose them to the benefits of engaging and collaborating with IDOs by exploring business prospects, and the variations in financing flow for rubber medical devices and dry rubber products. The Malaysian Government gazetted a 600-hectre industrial park, known as Kedah Rubber City (KRC), which is dedicated to rubber production, R&D, and manufacturing. KRC is expected to witness intensified R&D in rubber products and manufacturing that will be driven by the business sector with facilitation by the Malaysian Government. The Malaysian Government is committed to encouraging participation from government-owned entities and private sectors in the Middle East region to take advantage of the Rubber City facilities and tap into its potential markets, especially the healthcare sector – as it focuses on innovative, high-value-added and specialised latex as well as rubber products that are created using environment-friendly raw materials and processes.

Middle East investors could collaborate with Malaysian manufacturers who have experience in the formulation and production of rubber products to produce high-quality rubber medical devices of their own. They could leverage Malaysia’s position as one of the world’s main exporters of rubber products and the free trade agreement between Malaysia and other ASEAN countries (AFTA) where most rubber products have zero import tariff. 

What will you be showcasing at Arab Health 2023?

Committed to deliver the best event for healthcare community in the Middle East and North African region, MRC will be organising the biggest ever Malaysia Pavilion in Arab Health by leading a total of 17 Malaysian rubber medical devices manufacturers and exporters. MRC will promote Malaysia as the source of quality rubber medical devices by showcasing a wide range of innovative medical gloves and other rubber medical devices such as condoms, rubber catheters, dental dam, test lung, probe cover, and many more. 

Business matching will also be conducted between Malaysian companies and the potential buyers in MRC Malaysia Pavilion. Come and visit MRC Malaysia Pavilion at Trade Centre Arena, SA.L10 & SA.M10 to find out more about high-quality rubber medical devices from Malaysia at Arab Health 2023. In conjunction with the participation in the Arab Health exhibition, MRC will be delivering a presentation on the topic of “Innovative and Sustainable Rubber Gloves from Malaysia” at the Product Showcase session. The session will be held at the Transformation Talks Area in the Arab Health 2023’s fairground on Monday, January 30, 2023 at 3pm. We welcome all visitors to join us for the session.

Please tell us about your plans for the year 2023.

Moving forward, MRC will focus on promoting key rubber products that contribute most to the country’s exports such as rubber gloves and rubber medical devices, which include surgical gloves, condoms, catheters, and many more. MRC is committed to playing a more active role in engaging with different industry players while uniting rubber stakeholders from various agencies towards the same goal and objectives as we continue adding value to our industry, especially the healthcare sector. By saying that, MRC encourages rubber industry players to embrace IR 4.0 as this will enhance the production of gloves by inculcating the need for lesser dependency on labour and increased automated processes to meet global demands since rubber gloves have always been essential in practicing the best healthcare services.

Together with our manufacturers, we shall embark on sustainability initiatives whereby ‘Made in Malaysia’ rubber medical devices comply with social and green requirements, so that everyone can enjoy rubber products consumed by healthcare practitioners that are not only of good quality but also ethically produced. We aim to encourage a generation of ideas, innovations, and inventions for rubber products and technologies with good commercial viability to attract investments in order to elevate the global value chain of the rubber industry, especially in the healthcare sector as we should never compromise when it comes to health.

Through our Commercialisation & Investment (C&I) Unit, we are looking into accelerating the productivity of rubber-related industry players in the country via successful R&D, as well as optimising the growth and sustainability of the rubber industry by attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) and Direct Domestic Investments (DDIs). This commercialisation effort will help continuously evolve the healthcare sector in providing the best services as we are known for our esteemed reputation and usage of modern manufacturing facilities to produce a wide range of high-quality rubber medical devices.