Malaysia seeks to deepen palm oil collaboration with China
Published: Nov 15, 2023 01:16 AM
Representatives take a group photo at the China-Malaysia high level palm oil roundtable meeting in Shanghai on November 14. Photo: Qi Xijia/GT

Representatives take a group photo at the China-Malaysia high level palm oil roundtable meeting in Shanghai on November 14. Photo: Qi Xijia/GT

A high-level roundtable meeting of major stakeholders in the palm oil industry from China and Malaysia was held in Shanghai on Tuesday during the visit of Malaysia's deputy prime minister to China.

The meeting was attended by Malaysia's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Plantation and Commodities Fadillah Yusof, officials from Malaysia’s palm oil industry and representatives of the Chinese business sector to deepen business and trade ties in the palm oil sector between the two countries.

China has been Malaysia's largest trading partner for the last decade, while Malaysia has been China's top ASEAN trading partner for many years, underlining the reciprocal and advantageous nature of this trade relationship, Fadillah said in a keynote speech for the event. 

Palm oil plays a significant role in the China-Malaysia trade relationship, with China being one of the main recipients of Malaysia’s palm oil.

In 2022 the exports of palm oil and related products from Malaysia to China reached an impressive $3.72 billion, or 11.4 percent of Malaysia's total worldwide exports of palm derivatives, Fadillah said.

“I am confident that the exports will further increase this year with stronger demand from China, particularly in the growing oleochemical and animal feed sectors,” he added.

As part of the ongoing commitment to further strengthen this trade bridge, Malaysia is proactively exploring innovative ways to maximize the value and versatility of palm oil and expand its reach in various markets.

The Chinese market is getting more sophisticated as people are paying more attention to food safety, health and quality. This is where Malaysian palm oil has advantages, Datuk Mohamed Helmy, chairman of the Malaysia Palm Oil Board (MPOB), told the Global Times on Tuesday.

He said that the Malaysian palm oil industry is strengthening research and development to export more value added and differentiated products to the Chinese market. 

For example, the MPOB is currently promoting red palm oil in the Chinese market, which it believes has massive potential given China’s large hotpot paste market.

During the event, Chinese company Grand Oils and Fats (Dongguan) Co was recognized for operating the first Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certificated refinery in China, as part of the latest effort for Malaysia to promote sustainable palm oil products in China. 

This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). As a partner country in the BRI, Malaysia’s palm oil industry has greatly benefited from the better road connectivity brought by the BRI. 

“With this initiative, Malaysia is better connected from east to west. Wherever we want to ship our palm oil products it will be easy,” Helmy said.

Deputy Prime Minister Fadillah is visiting China from November 12 to 19. He met with Shanghai Mayor Gong Zheng on Monday. 

Fadillah said that he looks forward to deepening cooperation with Shanghai to upgrade Malaysia's palm oil industry. He also hopes to enhance fresh durian exports to the Chinese market, and advance 5G and AI applications.

Gong said Malaysia's robust economic growth and strong complementarity with Shanghai present a great opportunity to strengthen economic and trade cooperation. He suggested that the two can enhance collaboration in new-energy vehicles, the digital economy, biopharmaceuticals, and high-end manufacturing.