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Fadillah: Malaysia records agricommodity exports of RM117 bil up to September 2023

Publish date: Wed, 29 Nov 2023, 09:11 AM

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 28): Malaysia recorded an agricommodity export value of RM117 billion up to Sept 30 this year, said Plantation and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.

Fadillah Yusof said the encouraging performance was achieved even though the country faced various challenges in the global arena due to geopolitical conflicts and uncertain economic developments.

He said this in an interview on Radio Televisyen Malaysia 1 (RTM 1)’s “Selamat Pagi Malaysia - Madani Government One Year” anniversary programme on Tuesday. 

Malaysia aims to expand agricommodity market 

Fadillah said the government targets to expand the agricommodity sector to new markets globally, by enhancing cooperation and diplomatic relations.

“Among them, Malaysia’s mission to Kenya, as export to this country has increased. We view Kenya as a new market for us to expand the sector,” he said.

Besides that, Fadillah said Malaysia has also received a commitment from China to increase imports of agricommodity products of up to 3.4 million tonnes.

China is Malaysia’s second-biggest importer of agricommodity products, after the European Union (EU), he said.

Challenges faced in expanding to new markets

The agricommodity sector faces several challenges in its mission to expand its markets, such as the introduction of new rules which could restrict and curb exports, he said. 

“This specifically relates to the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR). This is why, one of our missions with Indonesia, to Belgium, under the palm oil-producing countries, was to meet with the leaders of the EU. 

“We received agreement to create an Ad Hoc Joint Task Force, composed of representatives from the EU, Indonesia and Malaysia, whereby the first meeting was held in Jakarta in August this year,” he said.

Malaysia is expected to chair the second meeting of the task force in mid-January 2024, after it was postponed in December 2023.

The meeting aims to find solutions on how the EUDR must consider the views of producing countries and discuss the effects of the regulation on the producing countries, particularly smallholders, and the guidelines of the EUDR implementation.

“One of our requests to them (the EU) is to recognise or acknowledge that we (producing countries) already have the process to certify all plantations, estates, farms and processing plants under the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO),” Fadillah said.

Current achievements of certification for palm, wood sectors 

For palm, the MSPO targets 98% of planted areas in 2023. As of September 2023, the MSPO-certified land areas were at 95%.

“I hope Malaysia will achieve the overall MSPO target, as we have made it mandatory for palm oil sector players to get MSPO, including smallholders, manufacturers and plantations,” he said.

For the wood sector, Fadillah said Malaysia has obtained six Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme to date.

“This achievement is actually important, as the global market needs commitment in terms of compliance to environmental sustainability. 

“Hence, if we want to expand our international market, we must meet all the requirements or regulations with regard to sustainability, set by the United Nations, the World Trade Organization (WTO), or any countries that issue such rules,” he said.

Opportunities for youth to venture into agricommodity sector 

Fadillah said the agricommodity sector provides job opportunities not only for youths, but also business opportunities.

“How do they translate their knowledge and skills in the plantation sector? For instance, the plantation sector now uses drones, automation and mechanisation. This is the encouragement for youth to get involved and expand their knowledge. 

“In fact, their (youths’) involvement in this sector is not limited to being workers, but more importantly is for them to expand their knowledge, such as in the supply of equipment needed in the plantation sector,” the minister said.

Youths can also venture into cocoa-based products, which have seen an increase in demand from local and global markets, he added.

“Another example is pepper, which we usually regard solely as a spice. But now, there is pepper tea, pepper coffee, and also pepper perfumes. 

“This means that Malaysians are very creative. When they are given the chance, they can create downstream products to meet various market demands, including in food, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical, and beauty sectors,” he added.

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