18/09/2007 (Reuters), KUALA LUMPUR - Pakistan has bought about 140,000 tonnes of palm oil for September shipment to meet strong demand during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, but imports are likely to decline later, an industry official said on Tuesday.
The South Asian nation, which has emerged as a big importer of palm products because of higher soyoil and oilseed prices, is expected to buy up to 300,000 tonnes of palm oil between October and December, Rasheed Janmohammed, vice-chairman of the Pakistan Edible Oil Refiners' Association, said.
"Pakistan has imported very well for September, in fact the import has been more than the requirement for the month of Ramadan," he told Reuters in a telephone interview from Karachi.
"The last quarter of 2007 won't be as good as September, it will remain in the vicinity of around 100,000 tonnes a month because our local cottonseed oil arrivals will start."
Pakistan annually consumes around 3 million tonnes of edible oils and meets most of the demand through imports.
Pakistan's edible oil purchases are likely to rise to 1.8 million tonnes in 2007, from 1.6 million tonnes a year ago, on the back of a rapidly expanding economy and rising consumption, traders say.
Janmohammed said Pakistani importers had already contracted a quarter of the palm oil requirement during October to December months.
He said Pakistan's domestic prices were at par with surging global markets but are expected to decline from October when supplies rise and demand tapers off.
"We did not buy a reasonable quantity in July and August, so when the Ramadan month started Pakistan did not have a good stock level, so the local market improved."
"In the first or second week of October Pakistan will have a glut of oil which will bring local prices down."
Janmohammed estimated Pakistan's August palm oil imports at around 80,000 to 85,000 tonnes.
Malaysian crude palm oil futures rose on Tuesday, just shy of a seven-week high hit the day before as rival soybean oil and crude oil markets rose in Asian trade.
By the midday break, the most-active December contract on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange rose 15 ringgit, or 0.6 percent, at 2,605 ($746) ringgit a tonne.
The official said Pakistan's cottonseed oil production is expected to remain unchanged at 500,000-600,000 tonnes between October and February.