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BERNE, Switzerland: The Ministry of Primary Industries, Malaysia and the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) will form a special joint committee comprising experts from both nations to cooperate in issues relating to palm oil. This was agreed upon during a meeting here between Malaysia’s Minister of Primary Industries, The Honourable […]
BERNE: The Ministry of Primary Industries, Malaysia and the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) will form a special joint committee comprising experts from both nations to cooperate in issues relating to palm oil.
This was agreed upon during a meeting here between Malaysia’s Minister of Primary Industries Teresa Kok, and Federal Councillor of the Swiss Confederation Johann Schneider-Ammann, who is head of the EAER yesterday.
The special expert committee will explore palm oil related opportunities towards sustainability, bilateral trade, exchange of relevant scientific technologies and possible collaboration in downstream palm oil industry applications.
The Ministers agreed that this would go a long way towards addressing the many negative sentiments associated with palm oil in Switzerland and would also be an important tool to assure local Swiss rapeseed farmers that imported palm oil will not pose a threat to their livelihood in the future.
Kok expressed her satisfaction with the bilateral meeting since it will ensure continued export of palm oil to Switzerland and could even possibly help attract direct Swiss investments through technology providers for various palm oil downstream activities.
The meeting was held at a crucial time since on Sept 25, 2018 the upper house of the Swiss Parliament narrowly defeated a motion to restrict importation of palm oil and its applications into Switzerland.
The Swiss motion was triggered by their concern that palm oil was produced unsustainably while contributing to deforestation. Such misinformation propagated by a strong NGO anti-palm oil campaign had succeeded in creating a major negative perception around palm oil.
Switzerland is however a comparatively small importer of palm oil. In 2017, a total of 29,100 tonnes of palm oil and palm products were imported and primarily used for various food applications.
The Swiss authorities were desirous of maintaining at least one third of their local consumption for locally-produced rapeseed oil and to support the local Swiss rapeseed farmers. These concerns coupled with the sustainability debate triggered the motion on palm oil in their Parliament.
Kok explained that Malaysia already produces nearly 42% of the global certified sustainable palm oil; yet this is not fully taken up by the European industry. In addition Malaysia’s overall goal to have its entire palm oil supply chain certified through the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) was also explained along with scientific investments through genome research that open avenues for higher yields in oil palm plantations.
Kok is leading a palm oil mission to Switzerland and the European Union from Sept 28 to Oct 6, 2018. She is accompanied by officials from the ministry, Malaysian Palm Oil Board, Malaysian Palm Oil Council, Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council and Forest Research Institute of Malaysia.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 2 — The Ministry of Primary Industries and the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) will form a special joint committee comprising experts from both nations to cooperate on issues relating…
KUCHING: Indonesia’s move to stop issuing planting permits for three years is not expected to impact Malaysian-listed planters with operations in Indonesia as most of these companies have already cut down on new plantings of palm oil in compliance with terms under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). The Indonesian government on Thusday issued […]
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's state oil palm plantation agency said yesterday it will sell assets, including property in London, restructure some loans and try to boost cash flow in a bid to trim debts.
Tan Sri Megat Zaharuddin Megat Mohd Nor, who took over as chairman of the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) in July, said he aimed to reduce debt by nearly 20% from RM8.03 billion at mid-2018 to RM6.5 billion by year-end.
Felda was set up to settle oil palm farmers, who work for the agency, and also has a one-third stake in Felda Global Ventures Bhd, the world's largest crude palm oil producer.
In recent years it has diversified into property, including hotels, both locally and overseas, but has been plagued by issues of poor management and allegations of corruption.
Megat Zaharuddin said the property assets to be sold had cost RM2.1 billion-RM2.2 billion, but declined to put an estimate on their current value.
Felda flagged the property sales last year when it trimmed its stake in Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank), Malaysia's biggest lender by assets, to raise about RM280 million.
“One thing to tackle is Felda's cash flow. Due to the lack of cash flow, we could not pay what we should have to the settlers,” said Megat Zaharuddin, adding that a loan restructuring would improve short-term cash flow and offer “a bit of a lifeline.”
Megat Zaharuddin, a former Maybank chairman, said Felda was studying how best to resolve its problems, without elaborating.
“I've been in many turnaround situations before, big and small. This is big. The turnaround of Felda will need a minimum of two years,” he said.
Felda also needed to improve its oil palm productivity to increase earnings, said Megat Zaharuddin.
“Our fresh fruit bunch productivity at Felda is above the national average of 20 tonnes per hectare, but we are not yet best in class,” he said, citing 24 tonnes per hectare as the target.
Megat Zaharuddin took over as chairman of Felda after his predecessor Tan Sri Shahrir Samad resigned in in the wake of the shock outcome of the 14th general election in May. – Reuters
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