MOSCOW: Malaysia hopes to develop and strengthen bilateral relations in the area of palm oil trade with Russia.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok believes there are opportunities for the private sector in the two countries to redefine their business approaches to form partnerships and strategic alliances to discover new avenues for expanding the edible oil and palm oil business.
“There are opportunities to explore investments in downstream higher value added palm derivatives, such as oleochemicals, pharmaceuticals, processed foods, specialty products and even consumer brands,” he said at the opening of Malaysia-Russia Palm Oil Trade Fair & Seminar 2010 (POTS 2010) here yesterday.
The POTS 2010 was jointly organised by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) and Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) in collaboration with the Russian Manufacturers Association and the Russian Oils and Fats Manufacturers Association.
Also present at POTS 2010 were Malaysian Ambassador to Moscow Datuk Mohamad Khalis, MPOC chairman Datuk Lee Yeow Chor, MPOB chairman Datuk Hj Sabri Ahmad MPOB director general Datuk Dr Mohd Basri Wahid, MPOC chief executive officer Tan Sri Yusof Basiron and other delegates from Malaysia.
According to Dompok, palm oil, together with electronics and electrical products as well as iron and steel products, accounted for 66.2% of the total Malaysian exports to Russia.
Commenting on palm products, he said palm oil had been recognised and accepted by Russian consumers over the last 10 years.
He added that palm oil consumption in Russia had gone up from just over 150,000 tonnes per annum to almost 500,000 tonnes currently.
“It is very encouraging to note that palm oil fits into the oils and fats market in Russia by complementing its (Russia) successful sunflower oil industry,” he said.
In 2009, Malaysia produced 17.56 million tonnes, or 43.7%, of the total palm oil production and exported 15.9 million tonnes, or 45% of world palm exports.
Malaysia is the main supplier of palm oil for the Russian market. Last year, Malaysian palm oil exports to Russia stood at 210,809 tonnes with export value of about US$150mil.
“While the volume is not big, we acknowledge the importance of Russia as our palm oil trading partners especially as a hub to the other CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) countries,” Dompok said.
Going forward, he said the oil and fats industry and trade were in an exciting period with buoyant prices and strong growth in demand.
“Despite facing a host of challenges, including pressures from environmentalists, I believe that if we commit to working together, we can overcome these challenges.
“And will continue to reap the huge benefits arising from the increasing demand for, and supply of palm oil and its derivatives,” he said.
Dompok said although Malaysia was being accused by environmentalists for cutting down trees to plant palm trees, the country had at least 50% forest covered as compared with Denmark (12%) and UK (20%).
On health issues pertaining to palm oil, he said data showed that palm oil was safe for consumption.
Meanwhile, Lee of MPOC hoped that a consensus can be reached in addressing the technical and supply aspects of palm oil to achieve a “win-win situation.”
Meanwhile, Lee hoped that a consensus can be reached in addressing the technical and supply aspects of palm oil to achieve a “win-win situation” through dialogues and interactions between Malaysian palm oil industry stakeholders and Russian decision makers.
“Through such sharing of knowledge, we can assist both countries in improving trade ties as well as to help settle impending issues that are present in the trade such as the high import duties of up to 30% on certain palm oil products,” he said. -ENDS-.