Malaysia, Venezuela pledge palm oil cooperation30 May 2001 (Business Times) - MALAYSIA and Venezuela have pledged tocooperate for mutual benefit in the palm oil sector.
Primary Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik said Venezuela iskeen to seek potential Malaysian investors and share experience withseveral plantation companies from the private sector.
"Venezuela invites potential Malaysian investors to explore the variouspalm oil opportunies such as developing oil palm estates there," he toldreporters during a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Dr Lim and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Frias had earlier held atwo-hour open dialogue session with the theme "Vision of the VenezuelanPalm Oil Industry".
During the session, Malaysia's palm oil industry and Venezuela's privatesector also participated and exchanged views.
President Chavez is on a two-day official visit to Malaysia.
This is his second after the first visit in October 1999.
Chavez was accompanied by a 30-member entourage which included ForeignMinister Colonel Luis Alfonso Davila, Science and Technology Minister DrCarlos Genatios and, Plannning and Development Minister Dr Jorge Giordani.
Chavez later left for Jakarta to attend the Group 15 summit yesterday.
"The president is forthcoming and understands quite well problems thatwill be faced by potential palm oil investors once they decide to investin Venezuela," Dr Lim said.
He added that during the session many questions were raised, mainly onland availability, costs of land, the security of tenure, the duration ofland leasing, availabilty of financing and costs of financing.
"Malaysia also wanted to know more on labour issues from their labourorganisations such as whether their workers insist on high wages evenbefore they even learn on how to be an oil palm worker," Dr Lim said.
He said the president is well versed in the palm oil industry andVenezuela has set up under its new constitution, provisions in landmanagement laws which will be forward looking.
"However, we still have a long way to go.
The private sectors of both countries have yet to conduct talks.
But there is great potential for the industry in which the amount ofavailable land is abundant and suitable for palm oil cultivation," hesaid.
Dr Lim added that negotiations between the two countries can be expeditedsmoothly because most of the lands in Venezuela are government-owned.
Venezuela needs to import some 300,000 tonnes of palm oil annually.
Palm oil production is the largest produced in Venezuela.
According to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry statistics,Malaysian exports to Venezuela totalled some RM143.15 million in 1997,RM116.4 in 1998 and RM62.6 million in 1999.