KUALA LUMPUR – The US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) has affected Malaysia’s target to export RM20 billion worth of palm oil products to the 12 participating countries in the pact by 2021.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister, Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, said as of 2014, exports of palm oil products to TPPA countries were over RM13 billion.
Mah said following the decision, Malaysia would look at other options to mitigate the loss, including entering bilateral free trade agreements with other TPPA participating countries.
“Other TPPA countries can go ahead with the pact and salvage the hard work of so many years,” he told reporters after delivering his keynote address at the 19th Malaysia Strategic Outlook Conference 2017 here today.
The annual conference, themed ‘Malaysia at 60: Forging Ahead — Where Do We Go From Here’, is organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute.
Mah said apart from expanding the market internationally, the industry would also focus on downstream segments to offer more value-added products.
“Downstream is the way forward and we are going to increase oleochemicals, the specialty fat amounts,” he said.
Mah said the government was currently negotiating for all planters in Malaysia to have sustainable planting certification from Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO).
He said a meeting with industry stakeholders would be held next month to discuss the matter which involved some 550,000 smallholders nationwide.
“The certification is not going to be easy process and it is also going to be quite an expensive exercise.
“We are considering to group together the smallholders together for the certification,” he said.
Mah said the certification was viewed as important in tackling accusations from overseas associated with the country’s palm oil development with environmentally harmful activities, said Mah.
As for the crude palm oil prices, Mah set a more conservative estimate of an average RM2,700 per tonne this year, up from RM2,600 last year, despite the commodity being currently traded at almost RM3,200 per tonne.
“Our target for 2017 is RM2,700 per tonne and we do not want to set a target which we are not sure of achieving,” Mah said. – BERNAMA