Sarawak Plans to Sell CPO in Middle East

Masing: 'We must look for new markets. Our main buyers now are China,India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.'

Masing: ‘We must look for new markets. Our main buyers now are China,India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.’

KUCHING: Sarawak has identified the Middle East as the potential new market for its palm oil products.

State Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing said the ministry was planning a mission to the Middle East to promote the sale of palm oil products.

“We must look for new markets. Our main buyers now are China, India, Pakistan and Bangladesh,” he told StarBiz

Masing said he had discussed with the Sarawak Oil Palm Planter Owners Association recently on establishing new markets for palm oil products following an announcement by Wilmar International Ltd two weeks ago on its new outsourcing policy on crude palm oil (CPO) from suppliers in Sarawak.

Early reports had stated that Wilmar’s “No Deforestation, No Peat, No Exploitation” policy was expected to affect CPO produced from some 400,000ha of peatland in the state. However, last week, Masing said Wilmar had assured him that the procurement policy would not affect the planters in Sarawak.

Wilmar-owned Bintulu Edible Oils is Sarawak’s largest refinery, purchasing 1.4 million tonnes of CPO out of 3.1 million tonnes produced by 41 mills in the state last year. There are 63 mills in operations.

There are five other refineries owned by Sarawak Oil Palms Bhd, BLD Plantation Bhd, Sime Darby Bhd, Assar Refinery Services Sdn Bhd and Kion Hoong Cooking Oil Mills Sdn Bhd. The combined processing capacity of all the refineries in Sarawak is 2.93 million tonnes per annum. From 2007 until June 2013, Sarawak exported RM40.1bil worth of palm oil products.

Masing was informed that the Rimbunan Hijau group, which was granted a licence to build a palm oil refinery in Bintulu some time ago, was seriously looking into undertaking the project.

Rimbunan Hijau’s listed companies – Jaya Tiasa Holdings Bhd, Subur Tiasa Holdings Bhd and Rimbunan Sawit Bhd – all have interests in oil palm cultivation.

Masing reiterated that the state government was committed to ensuring the long-term sustainability and the need to preserve the environment when opening up land for oil palm development.

“I am very conscious about environment and sustainability. We cannot carry out development at the expense of the environment.”

According to Masing, the anti-palm oil campaign mounted by Western non-governmental organisations (NGOs) was borne out of economic rivalry due to the competition of palm oil with other vegetable oils like soy and sunflower.

He said they had turned this economic rivalry into environmental and social issues in their smear campaigns against the state.

These NGOs, he pointed out, had switched to peatland as an issue to discredit oil palm development in Sarawak after they had failed to capitalise on the orang utan issue.

Sarawak, he said, had some 1.6 million ha of peatland, of which more than 400,000ha are covered by oil palm estates.

He said Wilmar, as the biggest buyer of CPO, and other big international companies had come under the influence of these NGOs.

“The Sarawak Government must stand up against economic bullying by international companies,” he stressed.


Source : The Star

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