Kazakhstan eyes role as distribution hub for Malaysian palm oil to Russia, Eurasian Union, rep says

Yiswaree Palansamy
A truck carrying oil palm fruits passes through Felda Sahabat plantation in Lahad Datu in Sabah February 20, 2013. Kazakhstan mainly imports Malaysian palm oil, rubber products, furniture and electronic components, while exporting crude oil mainly, alongside ferrous metals and pipes. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — Kazakhstan wants to become the central distribution hub for Malaysian palm oil and other products in Central Asia, connecting the resources to Russia and the Eurasian Union.

The republic’s counsellor to Malaysia Serik Amirov said that Kazakhstan supports Malaysian palm oil and sees great prospects for the harvest for its country, as well as its neighbouring nations.

“Actually we import from Malaysia palm oil, some rubber products, furniture and electronic components.

“That is a topic of discussion, yes. We are considering to increase the volume of palm oil. First reason is because Kazakhstan is considered as a hub for Malaysian products, including palm oil distribution in Central Asia, and also to the Eurasian Economic Union,” he said when asked if Kazakhstan is planning on buying more of Malaysian palm oil, especially after the heightened campaign by Primary Industries Minister, Teresa Kok.

“And we are talking not only about palm oil, but about other products as well.

“If Kazakhstan can become a hub, it’s a good market for distribution,” Amirov told a select group of media agencies in a special meeting at the Kazakhstan embassy here.

He added that the value of bilateral trade between Malaysia and Kazakhstan has also increased tremendously between 2017 and 2018, from US$125 million (RM524 million) to US$478 million.

“Last year we achieved US$478 million. It’s increased four times, first time in history, in comparison to that of the previous year. It shows that we really have the potential,” he said, adding that Malaysia’s membership in the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) may also boost the numbers further.

Kazakhstan mainly imports Malaysian palm oil, rubber products, furniture and electronic components, while exporting crude oil mainly, alongside ferrous metals and pipes.

Last year, the republic imported 25,000 tonnes of palm oil from Malaysia, but Amirov said more is needed to cater to growing industries there.

Amirov said that despite the European Union mounting pressure on banning palm oil, Kazakhstan is not affected by the momentum, and instead, seeks to understand the health benefits of the product.

Amirov said that there is also a huge market in the Eurasian Economic Union states of which members include Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan.

He added that the combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the said nations total a whopping US$2 trillion, with more than 180 million people, opening up many opportunities for Malaysian products.

“Actually Eurasian Union means free border movements for goods, finance and labour,” he said, adding that Malaysia stands to gain more from the trading mobility.

According to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry’s website, Malaysia has already signed and implemented seven bilateral FTAs with Japan, Pakistan, India, New Zealand, Chile, Australia and Turkey.

The ministry said that at the Asean level, Malaysia has six regional FTAs with Asean Free Trade Agreement (AFTA), China, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and India.

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