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Africa emerging new market for palm oil

G. Chandrashekhar

`We will take up the market access issue with China and India for a level playing field.'

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct. 8

AFRICA could be next big market for Malaysian palm oil because of low per capita consumption in that continent and large population.

This was revealed by the Chief Executive Officer of Malaysian Palm Oil Promotion Council, Mr Haron Siraj, during his presentation at OFIC 2002 on dynamics of global oils and fats trade. ``Over 228 million people in the whole of Africa consume less than five kg per capita and this provides a major market opportunity,'' he noted.

Malaysia, he claimed, was facing technical barriers to trade, objections on environmental grounds and market access restrictions. ``We will take up the market access issue with China and India for a level playing field,'' Mr Siraj said.

Malaysians have been unhappy with India because of large difference in customs duty between soyabean oil (45 per cent) and crude palm oil (65 per cent).

They have been lobbying for parity of duty between palm and soya oils.

Referring to the impact of madcow disease in Europe, the MPOPC chief said many consumers have converted from tallow to vegetable oil because of the BSE crisis and demand for palm stearine — a substitute to tallow — for industrial application was rising.

Other challenges palm oil faced included logistics (freight space and cost); regulatory impact of shipping (previous cargo restriction); labelling; food safety clearance by FDA and so on, he said.

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