As the world's Sixth largest rubber exporter and the Seventh largest rubber producing country Sri Lanka produces and delivers an annual turn over of nearly 98,000 metric tons of best natural rubber products including Sheet rubber, crepe rubber, technically specialised rubber varieties, and latex concentrate.
Nearly 80 % of the natural rubber production are absorbed by the country's rubber product manufacturers which includes nearly 250 small, medium and large scale manufacturing units scattered around the country.
Nearly 135,000 hectares of land mainly in Western and Sabaragamuwa provinces are under rubber cultivation today and most of these plantations belong to the small holder category, as oppose to the prevailing trend in other major rubber producing countries like India, China and Malaysia, where rubber plantations are owned and managed by large organisations.
With a view to improve the per capita rubber production in Sri Lanka the Sri Lankan government undertook several policy and implementation measures during the year 2014 including the promotion of growth and productivity in the Agriculture sector.
Moreover the implementation of subsidy programmes to promote replanting and new planting in the rubber plantation sector continued during 2014, with a view to increase the quality and quantity of rubber production in Sri Lanka.
Consisting of two large yet inter-dependent industries including the rubber plantations that produce raw natural rubber and rubber product manufacturers that convert the raw rubber into value added products, the rubber industry of Sri Lanka is among the ten largest in the world.
Despite the lower domestic production of natural rubber, the manufacturing of rubber based products increased by a 0.22% last year and maintained its growth fuelled by the imports of raw rubber ingredients, which were used as an input for the manufacture of rubber product aimed for the exports markets during the year.
The rubber manufacturing sector can be classified mainly into two sectors as latex based products and dry rubber based products.
Tyres of various varieties makes the majority of dry rubber based products exported from Sri Lanka, as the country has established itself as one of the leadingtyre manufacturers in the world. Among Sri Lanka's main tyre exports are the industrial based solid tyres specially made for heavy duty vehicles like forklifts, excavators and heavy transportation vehicles.
Sri Lankan solid tyre manufacturers provide specialised tyres for a large range of leading heavy vehicle manufacturers across the globe from USA to Europe and other destinations.
Meanwhile Sri Lankan pneumatic tyre products growth is mainly fuelled by the local demand for rubber tyres and tubes for motor cars & bicycles. The total export quantity of new pneumatic tires reached 13,026,986 units in year 2014, accounting for nearly 38% of the total tire export income.
Of the latex products exported by Sri Lanka, domestic rubber gloves , industrial gloves and medical gloves are the top items exported to markets in Europe and USA. Sri Lanka caters to over 5% of the global demand for medical gloves including sterile surgical and dental gloves designed for specific functions.
With an annual growth of 8-12% of the global medical gloves market and the improvement of local glove manufacturing facilities, Sri Lanka is expected to perform well in the global medical gloves market in the years to come.
Sri Lanka is also the main exporter of household and heavy duty rubber gloves to USA and is home to a number of leading international join ventures producing medical, household and heavy duty gloves for the international markets.
Exports of rubber & rubber products accounted for nearly 11% of total exports to USA in 2014 while they made 3.6% of the total exports to UK, the two leading importers of local rubber products, promising a better future for Sri Lankan rubber.