(L-R) Plantation Industries and CommoditiesDatuk Seri Mah Siew Keong and Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian during a press conference in Putrajaya, today. NST picture by SUPIAN AHMAD

PUTRAJAYA: China will be importing more palm oil and palm-based products from Malaysia and will not set limits on imports, says Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian.

He said there is good prospects for China in purchasing more agricultural commodities from Malaysia as bilateral relations are at its best.

"China's population of 1.3 billion people is the world’s biggest consumer market. Our government has set aside more than US$8 billion to import primary goods from producing countries.

"Bilateral trade between China and Malaysia is progressing and based on last year's trend we see higher demand for palm oil, rubber and other primary goods,” the ambassador said.

Bai further said China has no technical limit or glass ceiling on purchase of primary goods like palm oil from producing countries like Malaysia, adding that China

understands oil palm planters concerns in Malaysia.

"You can rely on us as a friendly party," Bai said.

China consumes 165 million tonnes of regular diesel per year. Local production of biodiesel is only 300,000 tonnes per year.

"Let’s say 5 per cent of my country's diesel consumption were to be from renewable sources, we would need to import more than 8 million tonnes of biodiesel per year,” he added.

Although Bai diplomatically made no reference or comparison to other nations, it was obvious his welcoming assurance of 'no technical limit' on palm oil purchase in China is starkly in contrast with the EU Parliament’s discriminatory stance to impose barriers to palm oil trade worth tens of billion dollars per year.

According to Malaysian Palm Oil Board data, palm oil shipment into China has been declining since 2009’s peak of four million tonnes.

However, last year, Malaysia's palm oil exporters saw a positive turn when volume improved by 2 per cent to 1.92 million tonnes.

Bai was speaking to reporters here today after a courtesy visit to Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.

Within 100 days of taking office in Kuala Lumpur, Bai is fast gaining popularity in strengthening diplomatic and trade relations between China and Malaysia.

Prior to this post, Bai was a deputy director-general at the Asian Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in China taking charge of Asean and Malaysia since 2013.

Mah concurred with Bai’s optimism of rising bilateral trade when he forecast China is likely to re-emerge as Malaysia’s biggest palm oil client by 2020.

"Last year, China emerged as Malaysia’s No.1 client when it bought more than RM8 billion in rubber products.

"I think, in two years, we can see China re-emerge as our biggest palm oil client, too," said Mah.

Malaysia's palm oil exports to China

2017 .. 1.92 million tonnes

2016 .. 1.88 million tonnes

2015 .. 2.38 million tonnes

2014 .. 2.84 million tonnes

2013 .. 3.70 million tonnes

2012 .. 3.50 million tonnes

2011 .. 3.98 million tonnes

2010 .. 3.48 million tonnes

2009 .. 4.03 million tonnes

2008 .. 3.79 million tonnes

2007 .. 3.84 million tonnes

Source: Malaysian Palm Oil Board