India’s palm oil tax hike unlikely to hurt Malaysia overall, says council

(From left) Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok, UOA Development Berhad managing director Kong Chong Soon and MPOC CEO Kalyana Sundram water an oil palm sapling during the launch of the Love MY Palm Oil campaign wall posters.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) said New Delhi’s tax hike on imports of Malaysian refined palm oil may affect the export volume to India.

However, MPOC chief executive Kalyana Sundram said the slowdown in refined palm oil exports was expected to be compensated by increased exports of crude palm oil to India.

“Their requirement for palm oil this year is actually higher than last year,” he told reporters after the launch of the Love MY Palm Oil campaign wall posters organised by the UOA group at Nexus, Bangsar South, this afternoon.

India, the world’s biggest edible oil importer, on Wednesday raised the tax on refined palm oil from Malaysia to 50% from 45% for six months to curb imports and boost local refining.

Local palm oil traders said Indian buyers had already started to reduce purchases last week after India’s trade ministry recommended raising the tax on refined palm oil imports from Malaysia.

India imported more than three million tonnes of Malaysian palm oil during the first seven months of the year, exceeding annual purchases in 2018 and 2017 of 2.5 million tonnes and two million tonnes, respectively, data from its palm oil board showed.

Kalyana Sundram said the average earnings from palm oil exports in 2019 were expected to be slightly lower compared with last year’s RM67.8 billion.

“But the quantity of palm oil that is going to go out of Malaysia is increasing, we are producing nearly 20 million tonnes,” he said.

He said the European Union (EU) was still seen as an important buyer of palm oil despite the anti-palm oil propaganda campaign there.

Besides India and the EU, the major importers of Malaysian palm oil are China, Pakistan, the Middle East and Africa.

Meanwhile, Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said the I Love MY Palm Oil campaign had resulted in higher sales of local red palm oil.

“They (red palm oil producers) all reported that the sale of red palm oil has gone up. I’m glad to hear that. In the past, many Malaysians did not understand that red palm oil has so much nutrients,” she said.