HO CHI MINH: Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok is optimistic that palm oil exports to Vietnam will expand as the country experiences rapid economic growth and improved living standards.
At a press conference after the launch of the Malaysia-Vietnam Palm Oil Trade Fair and Seminar (POTS) here today, Kok said Vietnam was an important market for Malaysian palm oil and that its importance would only continue to grow.
In 2018, she said, Vietnam consumed 1.5 million tonnes of oils and fats but it only produced 550,000 tonnes locally.
“They still need a lot more to cater to the needs of the local community. So, according to our estimates, Vietnam needs to import over 900,000 tonnes of oil to cater to consumption demands.”
Kok said palm oil was the main oil imported by Vietnam, making up 89% of all imported oils and fats, and this was why it would continue to be an important market for Malaysia.
According to Malaysian Palm Oil Council chairman Lee Yeow Chor, who was also present, Vietnam imported 462,000 tonnes of palm oil and palm oil products from Malaysia last year.
“Between January and July this year, Vietnam imported some 325,000 tonnes of palm oil and palm oil products from Malaysia, which is 22% higher than the corresponding period in 2018,” Lee said.
By the end of the year, he estimated that the final export tally would be close to 500,000 tonnes.
“We expect this to grow because of Vietnam’s high gross domestic product (GDP) growth of between 7% and 8%,” he said.
Vietnam ranks 8th on the list of the top 10 importers of Malaysian palm oil. The commodity is extensively used in a host of goods including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, food items and personal care products.
In her opening address at the trade fair and seminar today, Kok hailed the strong trade relations between Malaysia and Vietnam, noting that the country was the also the 8th largest destination for Malaysian exports, which totalled RM34.21 billion last year.
“Malaysian and Vietnamese players in the industry should embark on a number of collaborative initiatives to further enhance trade relationships in this precious commodity.
“Above all, there is a need for all oils and fats stakeholders to work together to meet the increasing demands of the Vietnamese consumers,” she said.
Kok said that the opportunities were “limitless” for the private sectors in Vietnam and Malaysia to expand the edible oil and palm oil business, and she thanked Vietnam for its continued support for the palm oil industry.