KOTA KINABALU, March 9 — Total commodity exports from Malaysia are expected to reach RM131 billion this year compared with RM127.5 billion last year.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok said the increase would come from higher demand from overseas and stable prices this year.
“We expect the commodity sector to continue to contribute to the country’s exports, taking into account the economic growth of the people in the world and the need for foods such palm oil, cocoa and pepper.
“In addition, the economies of major importing countries in the European Union and the US are expected to recover this year, and provide market opportunities to increase the exports of commodity products,” he said when addressing the ministry’s Commodity Media Night here last night.
Dompok said in terms of production, crude palm oil (CPO) production is expected to increase by 18.901 million tonnes.
Rubber production is also expected to be higher this year, contributed by output from areas replanted with high-yield clones undertaken after 2001, he said.
He said based on current downtrend, the production of cocoa beans in the country is estimated at 3,500 tonnes.
On the smallholders sector, some 4,829 hectares planted with young cocoa trees are not ready for production while the production of pepper is expected to increase 1.9 per cent to 26,500 tonnes from 26,000 tonnes last year, he said.
The increase was the result of the implementation of special projects by the ministry, including Productivity Improvement Programme and Income Enhancing Programme for Pepper Smallholders in Sarawak as well as Pepper Planting Programme at Bakun-Sungai Asap relocation.
He said revenue from commodity exports in 2012 was around RM127.5 billion, down by 9.8 per cent from RM141.2 billion in 2011.
“Income from exports of commodity and commodity products has contributed 18.2 per cent to the country’s export income worth RM702.2 billion.
Dompok said the oil palm sector is the biggest contributor accounting for RM73.3 billion or 57.5 per cent, followed by rubber contributed RM28.8 billion or 22.6 per cent, wood-based sector RM19.9 billion or 15.6 per cent, cocoa (RM3.7 billion atau 2.9 per cent), tobacco (RM1.6 billion or 1.2 per cent) and pepper which contributed RM244.9 million or 0.2 per cent.
He said although income from exports of commodity and commodity procucts was lower compared with 2011, the amount is the third largest after electrical and electronics and gas and petroleum.
“The fall in prices for oil palm and rubber sectors was influenced by lower demand and economic growth in main importing countries including China and India and the proposed ‘Nutella’ tax hike of 300 per cent.
“Environmental issues are also associated with the development of oil palm industry among which are deforestration, extinction of orangutan and the deaths of pygmy elephants,” he said.
On the media’s role in reporting commodity news, Dompok said his ministry has always valued the cooperation and support given to the government to continue the excellence and competitiveness of the commodity industry while at the same time protect the environment. — Bernama