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 Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani
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 What May be in store for palm oil?

Thursday, May 2, 2002 (The Star) - FRESH from heady sales in March andApril, Malaysia’s palm oil industry is wondering what’s in store in thecurrent month as arch rival soy prepares to bounce back.The world’s top palm oil producer shipped just less than two milliontonnes over the last two months, thanks mostly to China, whose recentdelay in approving bio-engineered food permits led to a rush of palm oilimports there, at the expense of soy.Malaysian exports were also helped by the crisis in the Argentinean andLatin American soy trade and a strong rupiah that pushed up the price ofcompeting palm products from Indonesia.But with the rupiah appearing to have stabilised somewhat, and signs thatArgentina’s economic and political woes may be coming to an end, palm oilexporters in Kuala Lumpur said they were getting nervous of prospects thismonth.“Whatever export hopes we’ve had for April have all been discounted,” theshipping manager at a palm oil brokerage in KL said on Tuesday. “Themarket’s real test will be how it performs in May.’’Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS), the main export tracker for theMalaysian palm oil market, said on Tuesday it noted a shipment volume of947,791 tonnes in April, against 975,904 for March and 733,101 forFebruary.China was the biggest buyer of Malaysian palm oil for April, taking211,370 tonnes, against 211,945 in March and 143,115 in February.India, the world’s biggest edible oils buyer, took 203,620 tonnes of palmoil in April, up from 109,290 in March and 112,740 in February, SGS said.Export projections for May have so far only come from Malaysian cropforecaster Ivan Wong, who said a week ago that up to 880,000 tonnes couldbe shipped in the current month.But palm oil dealers said Wong’s projections might be a little toooptimistic. “Argentina is returning to the market and will spare no effortin getting its exports back on track,’’ said a dealer. “I think thepicture for palm oil looks cloudy at the best.’’Argentina has a 30-million-tonne soybean crop, waiting to be harvested,crushed and delivered to the world.Dealers in KL said they could only hope that China would maintain itscurrent buying of palm oil.Beijing has committed to import up to 2.4 million tonnes of palm oil thisyear under World Trade Organisation obligations.But 67% of this, or 1.6 million tonnes, have been allocated to privateimporters, who still have discretion to decide if it was competitive tobuy palm oil, traders said.The Chicago Board of Trade said on Tuesday that Chinese importers had beenactively procuring Brazilian soy and a number of deals have been closed inthe past weeks. – Reuters

(The informations and opinions expressed in this article represent theviews of the author only. They should not be seen as necessarilyreflecting the views of Palm News)