KUALA LUMPUR (March 11): Maybank Investment Bank (Maybank IB) maintained its 'neutral' rating for the plantation sector, and said the sector had played its part in ensuring food security, job security, and health security not just for the nation, but the world over during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a sector update on Monday, the research house said despite rising cost challenges and falling output, the sector still made huge monetary contributions of more than RM23 billion over the past four years in various forms of direct and indirect taxes, and contributions.

Maybank IB said that between 2020 and 2023, the plantation sector contributed approximately RM6.1 billion in windfall profit levy, RM3.7 billion in export duties, RM1.3 billion in Malaysian Palm Oil Boar cess, RM200 million in prosperity taxes, more than RM6 billion in Sabah and Sarawak sales taxes (Maybank IB’s back-of-the-envelope estimates), and easily more than RM6 billion in corporate income taxes and individual taxes (by the smallholders) to the Malaysian government for a selected list of corporates.

“The sector is said to be among the highest tax contributors in terms of total taxes (including the windfall profit levy, export duties, Cess, and Sabah and Sarawak sales taxes, in addition to corporate taxes),” it said.

Maybank IB said palm oil holds more than 50% market share in the global vegetable oils trade.

Hence, the research house said its continuous availability is crucial to global food security as well as health security.

It said throughout the pandemic, palm oil exports never stopped, as the government allowed palm oil cultivation to proceed.

“Besides food use, the continuous availability of palm oil and palm products also meant there were the much-needed ingredients to make personal cares and cleaning products, such as hand wash, soap, laundry detergents, hand sanitisers, etc, which the world desperately needed in its fight against the highly infectious Covid-19 virus,” it said.

Maybank IB highlighted that during the pandemic, the plantation sector was among the few granted special approval by the government to operate.

It said social distancing at the workplace was inherent in the estates, given that one worker typically covers more than 10 hectares of estates, providing a naturally safe working environment.

The research house said that at the height of the pandemic, outsiders had limited access to the staffs’ housing quarters and estate operations to ensure the safety of their workers and families.

“While country borders were mostly closed initially, guest workers remained employed throughout, and were paid decent wages (plus incentives) that allowed them to repatriate the much-needed income to provide for their families back home (presumably equally affected by the pandemic),” it said.


Sumber : The Edge Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: After years of fighting tooth and nail, Malaysia has made its stand clear by winning the ruling and ensuring palm oil-based biofuel is removed from the European Union's (EU) trade restriction, said industry experts.

The World Trade Organisation's (WTO) decision generally in favour of Malaysia is "huge" given the discrimination against palm oil while other similar products available in the EU market are not subjected to similar restrictions.

This is important in safeguarding biodiesel producers and the economy overall, experts added.

"Malaysia can now market biofuel to the EU in wider capacity without being subjected to any form of discrimination with the prospect for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and marine biofuel requirement is growing," an industry expert told Business Times on condition of anonymity.

Malaysia will also be able to promote and educate the EU further on palm-based biofuel.

Now with the WTO overseeing things, it will become easier for Malaysia to challenge any unnecessary rules or limits imposed by the EU, making global trade fairer for everyone, said the industry expert.

"Local biofuel producers may safely increase production and market more to the EU, which means we can expect palm-based biofuel consumption to grow gradually," he added.

But the EU being allowed to keep rules on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC), Malaysia may need to work further to manoeuvre safely in order to ensure palm-based biofuel is accepted fully.

Plantation and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani had on Wednesday said the WTO panel had on March 5 issued its final report and concluded that the EU's renewable energy policy, which restricted palm oil biofuels, was discriminatory.

"This ruling from WTO demonstrates that Malaysia's discrimination claims are justified. This vindicates Malaysia's pursuit of justice for our biodiesel traders, companies and employees," he said.

Cargill Malaysia senior merchant Cassendre Lau said the ruling on EU's biofuel policy could positively impact Malaysia's palm oil industry, as it is a major producer of palm oil used in biofuels.

"If the policy is deemed discriminatory, it could potentially open up more opportunities for Malaysian palm oil in the EU market. However, the extent of the impact would depend on the specifics of any changes resulting from the ruling and how they affect trade relations between Malaysia and the EU," she added.

Malaysia, a major palm oil producer, had in January 2021 requested WTO dispute consultations with the EU over measures adopted by the bloc and its member states affecting palm oil and palm crop-based biofuels.

"If the EU conforms with its WTO obligations, you may see changes in trade policies, tariff structures and regulations to align with international standards," said Lau.

This could lead to increased market access, fairer trade practices, and potentially more opportunities for businesses within the EU and globally, she added.

On the contrary, Singapore-based RaboResarch Food and Agribusiness senior analyst Oscar Tjakra said it is still too early to comment on this ruling as they do not know whether the EU will appeal against the WTO panel report.

"If the EU decides not to appeal against the WTO panel report, the EU will need to make adjustments to EU Delegated Act, but need not to change the RED II legal framework. We will need to see details of these adjustments to analyse the impact of this ruling," he told Business Times.

Meanwhile, in an interview with FMT on Thursday, Johari said Malaysia had won key parts of its dispute with the EU over the latter's renewable energy directive known as RED II.

Putrajaya was also successful in challenging several measures maintained by France, Johari added.

He said a three-member panel had ruled that several measures undertaken by the EU and France were "inconsistent with WTO rules".

Particularly, restrictions like the "high ILUC risk cap" and "phase-out" regulations violated trade agreements aimed at preventing unnecessary trade barriers, he told the portal.

The panel also noted that other similar products available in the EU market were not subject to the same restrictions.

"The EU and France must now bring their measures into conformity with their WTO obligations," he added.

Malaysian Palm Oil Board director-general Datuk Ahmad Parveez Ghulam Kadir echoed Johari's statement. 

"The ruling highlights the EU's restrictions' inconsistency with WTO rules. This affirms Malaysia's persistent efforts to advocate for the sustainability of the palm oil supply chain.

"Anticipating the EU's obligation to conform to WTO rules, amendments to the EU's renewable energy policy are expected."

He said the board would monitor the EU's regulatory changes to align with the WTO's findings, fostering fair trade practices and recognising Malaysia's contributions to sustainable palm oil production.


Sumber : New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: The Plantations and Commodities Ministry will discuss with the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to include Malaysia Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification alongside Halal certification as a requirement for marketing palm oil.

This, according to its minister, Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani, is due to the fact that Halal is a globally recognised and authoritative certification in Malaysia.

"Through MSPO, it encompasses the environment and where they can find out how the palm oil process goes until it is bottled.

"It also covers the condition of the palm oil plantation, the management of the plantation, the use of very high standards and whatever chemicals are used are safe for the product to be produced."

Hence, Johari said, the MSPO could prove to consumers that the product was not only assuredly clean, but also of high quality and safety.

He said previously, palm oil sold in the country had to be Halal-certified, irrespective of brand, and wanted MSPO to be included in the certification requirements.

"That's why if possible, we want to impose conditions on palm oil products that are marketed in the country to have an MSPO certification before they can be distributed here.

"Ideally, palm oil products sold in all stores and supermarkets in our country must have the MSPO certification," he told reporters after launching Saji's new cooking oil label with the MSPO logo and signing of a strategic collaboration between MSPO and FGV Holdings Bhd.

The MSPO certification is Malaysia's national certification standard and was developed with input from stakeholders in the palm oil industry.

The certification, first launched in November 2013, was officially implemented on a voluntary basis in January 2015 with improvements throughout the year.

Recently, the certification was revised last year with stricter standards, including a deforestation deadline of Dec 31, 2019, which meets the deadline of the European Union (EU) Deforestation Regulation.

Other revisions included the identification of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and their reduction monitoring plans, the introduction of new guidance on free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and the protection of human rights defenders and whistleblowers.


Sumber : New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 29 ― The oil palm industry in Malaysia needs to be revamped, including ensuring the involvement of all related parties, to guarantee the sustainability of the sector in the future.

In stressing this matter, Plantation and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Johari Ghani said industry players and smallholders need to work together to develop the industry without involving a lot of government allocations.

“Many issues need to be resolved, not only involving the ministry but also industry players such as the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda), Felcra Bhd and the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda).

“These (institutions) have to be strong so that the smallholders can depend on them. Otherwise, it will be difficult for the smallholders and it will affect their income,” he said on Bernama TV’s Ruang Bicara programme yesterday.

Elaborating further, Johari also emphasised the importance of implementing existing policies to attract interest in the purchasing of finished products as well as raw materials in the long term.

Apart from that, the perception of employment in the industry needs to be changed especially among the younger generation. For example, young people from settler families certainly have a foundation in the industry, he noted.

“Thus, what is needed is professional training through the technical and vocational education training (TVET) that can produce professionals in this industry for the future,” he said, adding that this would help to tackle the labour shortage issues in the industry.

The minister pointed out that the shortage of about 40,000 foreign workers in the oil palm sector has significantly impacted yields, leading to an estimated loss of RM7.9 billion in export value for Malaysia.

Regarding the issue of the European Union's Deforestation-free Products Regulation (EUDR), he said the government is always aware and compliant with the rules to produce quality palm oil and preserve its sustainability.

“I want to see every estate in Malaysia become a world-class plantation, with that all parties must comply with the guidelines and regulations that have been set,” he added.

Johari said through the Agricommodity Policy 2030, the government will preserve the environment as well as increase the productivity of the workforce and protect workers' rights.

This positive development will increase the value of palm oil exports and attract investments into the country, he added. ― Bernama


Sumber : Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR: Plantation and commodities minister Johari Ghani says manual labour is still required to harvest oil palm fruits, as machine-based technology for such purposes has yet to be developed.

Johari said this was why the palm oil industry is heavily dependent on foreign workers for harvesting and collection, with nearly half of the workforce dedicated to this process.

“It (harvesting) still requires manual labour. We have many (manual) tools for harvesting the fruit but this requires the expertise of skilled workers,” he told the Dewan Rakyat today.

However, he said mechanisation was feasible for other tasks in the industry, such as the application of fertiliser and pesticides.

Johari was responding to a supplementary question from Idris Ahmad (PN-Bagan Serai) on whether the ministry plans to mitigate the shortage of workers in the palm oil industry through technological advancements.

Last month, he announced that only the plantation sector would be permitted to hire foreign workers, a decision conveyed to him by home minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail after Saifuddin’s meeting with human resources minister Steven Sim on Jan 16.

Johari had said that the industry was facing a shortage of 40,000 workers.

To address the industry’s need for foreign workers, Johari said the ministry had introduced technical and vocational education and training aimed at training locals to become harvesters.

“We have identified 60 people to enrol in this course, scheduled to commence in April and conclude in September. Hopefully, they can focus on the intricacies of harvesting these fruits,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat.

“And when this expertise is acquired, we can encourage more people to engage in harvesting oil palm fruits.”


Sumber : Free Malaysia Today