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SANDAKAN, Dec 3 — Malaysia should consider creative payment methods other than cash to continue trade with other countries hit by the downturn in commodity prices and a possible sanction against palm oil, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said today.
The Sabah chief minister then suggested reviving the barter system for international trade.
“We now buy spare parts for our jets and submarines, bullets, weapons, all kinds of European goods from France, the UK, Germany.
“That’s OK. We can continue, but to increase it, let’s propose we pay in terms of palm oil instead of cash. Why not?” he told reporters after launching the new Sabah forestry policy at the state Forestry Department here.
He smiled to show he was joking when reporters responded with raised eyebrows.
“It’s a very challenging economic climate now, with all the prices of palm oil, fuel, rubber going down, and we have lots of debt, so we must be creative in finding ways and means to overcome problems,” he added.
The former federal minister noted Malaysia’s RM1 trillion debt and Putrajaya’s frugality with spending only on necessities.
Earlier, Shafie said Malaysia could also consider processing palm oil into biodiesel for fuel and power generation, as the European Union mulls banning palm oil products.
“Because of all the objections to palm oil from international markets and Europe, I suggest the federal government process it not for cooking oil or consumption, but for biodiesel.
“Since we cannot penetrate the market using palm oil, then let’s turn it to diesel for export, I don’t think it will be an issue — there are lots of other approaches we can take to be creative,” he said.