MUMBAI, Feb 8 — Malaysia’s total export of palm oil and palm oil products to India is set to grow five to 10 per cent this year from three million tonnes worth US$1.97 billion (US$1=RM4.43) in 2016, the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities said.
Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said India and Malaysia have long historical and cultural ties, which have now developed into excellent diplomatic and trade relations.
The setting up of Malaysian Palm Oil Board’s (MPOB) research and technical services in Mumbai, scheduled to be ready by June this year, would further enhance the image of palm oil in India and subsequently raising its import of the commodity, he added.
India is currently the leading importer of Malaysian palm oil, ahead of China and the European Union.
“Even though the volume is only about 30 per cent of the country’s total palm oil imports, we always value India’s supports and would like the trade between the two countries to sustain and grow further,” he said in a keynote address at a Networking Seminar held in conjunction with his first official visit to India at ITC Maratha Hotel here today.
The seminar covered topics related to technical aspects of palm oil, regulatory issues, market challenges and the Indian economy in relation to the vegetable oil sector, with speakers made up of India’s captains of industry, and experts from the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) and the MPOB.
India’s oils and fats market has grown by leaps and bounds from 7.2 million metric tonnes in 1993 to 23.28 million metric tonnes in 2016, almost tripled over the last 20 years.
Mah said over the years, the palm oil trade between Malaysia and India was built on mutually beneficial grounds and he hoped all parties would further invigorate new trade and business opportunities in palm oil and its various palm derivatives.
“Despite facing a host of challenges, including pressures from environmentalists and the anti-palm lobbies, I believe that if we commit ourselves to working together, the oils and fats business can overcome these challenges.
“This will allow the business community to reap the benefits arising from the increasing demand for, and supply of, palm oil and its derivatives,” said Mah.
At the event, the minister also launched MPOB’s information booklet on the benefits of palm oil in Hindi.
Mah, who is in India for a one-day visit today, earlier led the Malaysian Economic and Technical Missions on Palm Oil, Timber and Rubber Products to Iran from Feb 5 to 7.
Earlier, he met The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA), a broad-based all India apex body of solvent extraction industry, to discuss issues pertaining to palm oil in the country.
The delegation comprises representatives from the ministry, the MPOC, the MPOB, the Malaysian Timber Council and the Malaysian Rubber Board.
SEA President Atul Chaturvedi, in his presentation at the seminar, said he is optimistic that Malaysia is poised to increase its market share of palm oil in India through its vigorous promotion efforts.
“Malaysia is currently supplying about 30 per cent of India’s requirement with its palm oil. I am sure in the years to come, under Mah leadership, we will probably touch the magical figure of 50 per cent requirement,” he said.
Speaking at a press conference on the sidelines of the seminar, Atul said India currently imported 21 million tonnes of vegetable oils, of which 8.5 million tonnes or 40 per cent was palm oil.
Of the 8.5 million tonnes of palm oil imported, he said three million tonnes were from Malaysia, while the rest was mainly from Indonesia.
Formed in 1963, SEA’s present strength of over 850 members, comprised 350 solvent extraction plants, 100 oil mills, 200 vegetable oil refiners, 40 Vanaspati manufacturers, and 50 compound feed and 20 fatty acids manufacturers.
Meanwhile, MPOC Chairman Datuk Lee Yeow Chor expressed his optimism that Malaysia could improve the volume of its export to India.
“This is due to the intrinsic good value of palm oil and it is still competitively priced, as a whole, compared with that of other vegetable oils,” he told Bernama. — Bernama