By LYDIA NATHAN / Pic By TMR File
The Primary Industries Ministry is currently in talks with various industries, including big companies in the transport sector as well as petroleum groups to enhance and speed up the use of biodiesel in Malaysia.
Minister Teresa Kok (picture) said she hopes all industries will move forward in the same direction.
“There are no current developments, but we have ongoing dialogues happening. We still need to get approvals from all parties,” she said to reporters after presenting the excellency service awards to employees of the Malaysian Timber Industry Board (MTIB) in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
The spread between crude palm oil (CPO), Brent crude oil and gas prices has industry experts proclaiming that it is time to revive the country’s stalled B10 biodiesel mandate.
CPO is the main feedstock used in the production of palm methyl ester or biodiesel and is currently trading at RM2,200 per tonne.
The higher blending of biodiesel is said to soak up more supplies of palm oil and reduce stockpiles in Malaysia. Kok has said this issue, as well as palm oil, will definitely be the topics discussed during Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s visit to China this month.
“The visit will be over a few days and each of us will have a mission, which we intend to fulfil. My ministry will be signing memoranda of understanding with China and we are working on more,” she said.
The delegation will also involve the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ministry of International Trade and Industry.
“Tun M will announce the details of the trip,” said Kok. According to MTIB DG Datuk Dr Jalaluddin Harun, they hit a record high of RM8 billion worth in furniture exports last year. About 80% of the exported furniture was made from rubberwood.
“We are slowly trying to reduce the exports of commodities. For example, Sabah has put a ban on the export of logs from the plantation forest. This shows the raw materials can and will be used for downstream activities,” he said.
Jalaluddin said the timber industry projects a 3% to 5% growth, which will be monitored closely.
“Modernisation must take place in order for us to move forward. We cannot rely on the use of foreign unskilled workers any longer. This is why we are looking at using automation and machination in the industry,” he said.
According to Jalaluddin, the last study conducted in 2014 showed 58% of the industry’s workers were foreigners.
“This number is higher now in the furniture industry. We are looking at about 70% to 80%, this is why we need to address the topic of automation,” he said.