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Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong (centre) says last year, Iran bought 453,172 tonnes of palm oil and palm oil products valued at US$331 million. Pix by AIZUDDIN SAAD.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong (centre) says last year, Iran bought 453,172 tonnes of palm oil and palm oil products valued at US$331 million. Pix by AIZUDDIN SAAD.

BANGI: Malaysia’s palm oil exports to Iran has more than doubled to RM748.1 million in the first five months of this year, thanks to higher pricing and volume ordered, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.

“From January to May, our palm oil exports have expanded by 141.5 per cent to RM748.1 million from RM309.8 million. Prices and volume of palm oil products shipped over to Iran are higher this year,” he said.

Latest data from the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) showed in the first half of this year, Iran bought 282,238 tonnes. This amount is more than double that of 132,490 tonnes shipped over to Tehran in the same six months of 2016.

Mah was speaking with reporters after officiating at the Transfer of Technology seminar and exhibition organised by MPOB here today.

Also present were Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry’s deputy secretary general Zurinah Pawanteh, MPOB director general Dr Ahmad Kushairi and Malaysian Palm Oil Council chairman Datuk Lee Yeow Chor.

Five months ago, the minister had led a 3-day Malaysian Economic and Technical Mission on Palm Oil, Timber and Rubber Products to Iran.

He noted that palm oil is an important daily staple in the Middle East communities. Last year, Iran bought 453,172 tonnes of palm oil and palm oil products valued at US$331 million.

Mah highlighted it is timely for Malaysia to negotiate favourable or at least, fair treatment on palm oil and other agricultural commodities, in view of a free trade agreement (FTA) with Iran.

Palm oil shipment to Iran used to be hampered by import quota and now, exporters is having to tolerate a discriminatory tax regime compared with other edible oils.

In 2014, Iran imposed import quota on palm oil, of which total palm oil import must not exceed 30 per cent of its total oils and fats import. As a result, Iran’s palm oil purchase dropped by 47 per cent from 997,000 tonnes in 2013 to 330,970 tonnes in 2015.

In March 2016, the import quota was removed but replaced with a higher import tax of 40 per cent whereas other vegetable oils are only taxed at 24 per cent.

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