Malaysia looks to Pakistan after Indian palm oil controls

Malaysia may expand its palm oil trade with Pakistan following controls imposed by the Indian government on refined palm oil imports. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 13 January 2020

Malaysia looks to Pakistan after Indian palm oil controls

  • India is world’s biggest palm oil importer and in 2018 imported $5.1 billion worth
  • Palm oil restrictions are seen as New Delhi retaliation following Malaysian criticism

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia may expand its palm oil trade with Pakistan following controls imposed by the Indian government on refined palm oil imports. 
“Pakistan is one of Malaysia’s most regular and dependable buyers of local palm oil and products,” Malaysian Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said on Sunday.
Kok met Pakistan’s Adviser for Commerce, Textiles, Industry and Production and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood on an official visit to Pakistan.
“In 2018, Pakistan imported 1.16 million metric tons of palm oil from Malaysia valued at RM2.97 billion ($730 million). Avenues were discussed to further expand Malaysian palm oil share in this growing market,” said a statement by the Ministry of Primary Industries in Malaysia on Sunday following the minister’s visit.
India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) last week announced restrictions on the import of refined palm oil and palm olein, a liquid form of palm oil. Importers will now be required to apply for licenses. 
Indian media reported that while the announcement was “not country-specific, but product-specific,” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government had “informally” requested palm oil refiners and traders forgo Malaysian palm oil. 
India is the world’s biggest palm oil importer and in 2018 imported $3.8 billion worth of palm oil from Indonesia, and $1.3 billion from Malaysia. The two Southeast Asian countries are the world’s main producers in the palm oil industry.
The Indian import controls came after remarks by Malaysian Prime Minister regarding India’s actions on Kashmir and the new citizenship law last year.
A Malaysian political analyst from the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, Dr. Oh Ei Sun, said that the restriction “doesn’t help to improve bilateral relations” and is seen as New Delhi’s retaliation to a series of remarks made by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad regarding India’s widely criticized citizenship laws and Kashmir lockdown.
“We speak out our minds and we don’t retract and change,” said the 94-year old leader at a press event in October regarding his UN speech last year calling for a UN resolution on the Jammu and Kashmir conflicts.
He also spoke out against the new citizenship legislation last year during the KL Summit in December, claiming that the new law would “deprive some Muslims of their citizenship.”
Mahathir’s decision to allow controversial Indian preacher Zakir Naik to remain in Malaysia also upset Modi.
“As India is a major buyer of Malaysian refined palm oil, palm oil refining industry will, of course, be significantly affected,” Dr. Oh said, adding that it remains to be seen if the broader crude palm oil-producing industry will be affected.
End.


Big oil feels the heat on climate as industry leader promises: ‘We will be different’

Updated 22 January 2020

Big oil feels the heat on climate as industry leader promises: ‘We will be different’

  • Trump singles out ‘prophets of doom’ for attack
  • Greenpeace told the Davos gathering that the world’s largest banks, funds and insurance companies had invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal

LONDON: Teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg slammed inaction over climate change as the global oil industry found itself under intense scrutiny on the opening day of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

The teenage campaigner went head to head with US President Donald Trump, who dismissed climate “prophets of doom” in his speech.
She in turn shrugged off the US president’s pledge to join the economic forum’s initiative to plant 1 trillion trees to help capture carbon dioxide.
“Planting trees is good, of course, but it’s nowhere near enough,” Thunberg said. “It cannot replace mitigation. We need to start listening to the science and treat this crisis with the importance it deserves,” the 17-year-old said.
The 50th meeting of the World Economic Forum was dominated by the global threat posed by climate change and the carbon economy.
The environmental focus of Davos 2020 caps a year when carbon emissions from fossil fuels hit a record high, and the devastating effects of bushfires in Australia and other climate disasters dominated the news.
Oil company executives from the Gulf and elsewhere are in the spotlight at this year’s Davos meeting as they come under increased pressure to demonstrate how they are reducing their carbon footprint.
“We are not only fighting for our industry’s life but fighting for people to understand the things that we are doing,” said Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental, the US-based oil giant with extensive oil operations in the Gulf. “As an industry when we could be different — we will be different.”

‘Planting trees is good, but nowhere near enough,’ activist Greta Thunberg told Davos. (Shutterstock)

She said the company was getting close to being able to sequester significant volumes of CO2 in the US Permian Basin, the heartland of the American shale oil industry which is increasingly in competition with the conventional oil producers of the Arabian Gulf.
“The Permian Basin has the capacity to store 150 gigatons of CO2. That would be 28 years of emissions in the US. That’s the prize for us and that’s the opportunity. People say if you’re sequestering in an oil reservoir then you are producing more oil, but the reality is that it takes more CO2 to inject into a reservoir than the barrel of oil that it makes come out,” Hollub said.
The challenge Occidental and other oil companies face is to make investors understand what is happening in this area of carbon sequesteration, she added.
The investment community at Davos is also looking hard at the oil industry in the face of mounting investor concerns.
Greenpeace told the Davos gathering that the world’s largest banks, funds and insurance companies had invested $1.4 trillion in fossil fuel companies since the Paris climate deal. It accused some of these groups of failing to live up to the World Economic Forum goal of “improving the state of the world.”