Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said the ministry has expressed his concern on the recent changes in the duty structures of imported edible oils announced by the Indian government and the decrease of export volume of Malaysian palm oil into India. (Pic by AIZUDDIN SAAD)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has stressed on the importance for the country and India to work closely to revitalise new trade and business opportunities in the palm oil sector, covering both food and non-food sector.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said the ministry has expressed his concern on the recent changes in the duty structures of imported edible oils announced by the Indian government and the decrease of export volume of Malaysian palm oil into India.

"India’s import of Malaysian palm oil, plunged 23 per cent to 2.82 million tonnes in 2016 compared to 3.69 million tonnes in 2015,” Mah said during the bilateral discussion with India's Minister of Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu in India today.

For the first-half of 2017, Mah said India has imported 1.03 million tonnes of Malaysian palm oil, a decrease of 29.5 per cent from 1.46 million tonnes during the same period last year.

Meanwhile, Malaysian product exports into India accounted for RM32.01 billion last year, making the country as the fifth largest trading partner for Malaysia.

Mah said India is the major export destination for Malaysian palm oil and palm based products accounted for RM8.32 billion.

For January to June 2017, Malaysia has exported RM3.92 billion worth of palm oil and palm based products to India.

MPIC also took the opportunity to promote the consumption and uptake of Malaysian palm oil during the festive month of Diwali, which every year will create a surge in demand on edible oils and fats.

Indian consumption of oils and fats accounts for more than 23 million tonnes or 11 per cent of the total consumed volume globally, due to the rising income and expanding urbanisation in the country.

"This makes India the largest importer of oils and fats, accounting for 18 per cent of the total world’s import of all oils and fats,” he said adding that Malaysian and India agreed to work closely to improve trade in agricultural products including palm oil and palm oil products.

MPIC’s discussion also revolved around certified sustainable palm oil, noting that India is working towards a Framework on Sustainability for Palm Oil.

"Malaysia has established the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) scheme, which will be made mandatory by 2019 for players in the industry.

"This will ensure that the smallholders can also participate in a certification scheme and find new export markets for their oil in future,” he said.

Mah pointed out that Malaysia looks forward to working with India to ensure MSPO is recognised by the Indian government, which in turn would contribute towards sourcing and promoting sustainable palm oil from Malaysia.

Following the official visit in India, MPIC will head for Bangkok on September 15 to attend the Ministerial Meeting of International Tripartite Rubber Council (ITRC), joined by Thailand and Indonesia.

Main agenda for this meeting includes stabilising the international rubber price, in order to benefit the rubber industry players worldwide, including more than 450,000 rubber smallholders in Malaysia.

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