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Malaysia exploring new markets for palm oil - minister

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Putrajaya is looking to North Africa and the Middle East for new palm oil new markets.

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said today that she and her deputy, Shamsul Iskandar Md Akin, as well as the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) have been exploring new markets since the beginning of the year.

Among others, Kok said Shamsul has visited Pakistan and Ethiopia, while she will be visiting several North African countries, and attending a trade seminar in Saudi Arabia soon.

"These are all new markets, but there are competitors to palm oil who are already in such markets.

"We will lose out if we don't go to such places to promote our palm oil," she told reporters at the Parliament lobby.

Kok said there has been interest shown so far, and that these countries are already importing Malaysian palm oil, but only in small quantities.

Malaysia and Indonesia account for 85 percent of the world's palm oil production, but the industry in these two countries has been affected by a looming import ban by the European Council.

Europe is accusing the Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil industry of unsustainable practices, a charge which Kok denies.

The minister said Malaysia will compel oil palm industry players to replant one million trees over the next decade to address deforestation charges.

"I have read that our Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail met French MPs who were not aware that Malaysia has more than 50 percent forest cover. What does this tell you?

"Many are ignorant about Malaysia and the good stories going on here. So when we work on wildlife conservation and restoration of the forest, we are going to publicise our work," she said.

Kok said the tree planting campaign will begin this weekend in Sabah. 

The state has long been accused by the anti-palm oil lobby of displacing orangutans by allowing plantations to expand.

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