M’sia-Bosnia tie to counter palm oil perception

By AFIQ AZIZ / Graphic By TMR

The government is expected to align with Bosnia and Herzegovina as a strategic partner to counter the negative perception on palm oil among European countries.

Primary Industries Deputy Minister Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin said choosing the Balkan state is one of the government’s strategies to improve the industry’s perception — especially in the European Union (EU) states.

“As Bosnia is part of Europe, it would help us to facilitate our deals (between Malaysia and the EU). It is part of the ministry’s strategy to overcome this situation,” he told reporters after receiving a courtesy call by Bosnian delegates in Putrajaya yesterday.

Shamsul Iskandar added that the government is also looking to enhance the role of the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC), in which only Malaysia and Indonesia are involved as its members.

“We hope CPOPC can be used as a platform which can provide consensus among the oil palm production countries that we can work together and cooperate. We must have a very good cooperation and work together, so we can speak with the same narrative to make sure that our palm oil will be competitive in the international market,” he said.

Last week, Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta — the largest palm oil producers — had agreed to increase cooperation regarding the negative campaigns against palm oil products in the EU.

Meanwhile, the Bosnian delegates paid a courtesy visit to Malaysia to promote the Sarajevo Halal Fair, which will be held from Sept 26 to 28, 2018.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is expected to deliver a keynote address via teleconference at the three-day event.

Among the delegates from Bosnia were the Ambassador to Malaysia Emir Hadzikadunic, Bosna Bank International Inc president of management board Amer Bukvic and Bosna Bank International senior expert associate Mirza Vejzagic.

Bukvic said the event would provide a platform to promote halal products, including palm oil-based products.

“We are talking about a market of 50 million people in Europe and we hope Bosnia can be a gateway for Malaysian products,” he said.

As of May this year, Malaysia’s export of palm oil and palm oil products to Bosnia stood at RM590,000, a 68.6% increase compared to the same period last year.

Additionally, Shamsul Iskandar said a few proposals have been discussed between both countries on how Malaysian companies can penetrate the market via the Bosnia gateway, especially in the palm oil and rubber industry.