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Malaysia Palm Oil Exports Gain 18% in First 15 Days of Month

Feb. 15 (Bloomberg) -- Palm oil shipments from Malaysia rose 18 percent in the first 15 days of this month, according to an estimate from Intertek, adding to signs that a zero-rated tax on exports for this month may help reduce near-record reserves.

Exports climbed to 673,555 metric tons from 570,510 tons in the same period in January, Intertek said in a statement today. That matches an 18 percent gain in the first 10-day period this month. Shipments gained 14 percent to 649,045 tons in the first 15 days, according to Societe Generale de Surveillance.

The second-largest producer set the tariff on crude shipments at zero in January and extended it to this month to help draw down reserves, which reached the highest level ever in December. The tax will be 4.5 percent in March, according to a Customs Department statement today.

“Zero crude palm oil export taxes announced by the Malaysian government for the month of February, versus 9 percent taxes for Indonesia, may have aided exports,” Ong Chee Ting and Chai Li Shin, analysts at Maybank Investment Bank Bhd., wrote in a report today.

Palm oil for April delivery declined 0.4 percent to 2,486 ringgit ($804) a ton on the Malaysia Derivatives Exchange, the lowest price at close for the most-active contract since Jan. 29. Futures dropped 2.9 percent this week.

Inventories in Malaysia slid 1.9 percent to 2.58 million tons last month, the palm oil board said Feb. 13. Output fell 10 percent to 1.6 million tons, while exports slid 1.6 percent to 1.62 million tons, it said.

The Malaysian government said in October it would cut the export tax to between 4.5 percent and 8.5 percent, from about 23 percent, from Jan. 1. The tariff was fixed at 4.5 percent in March as the reference price was set at 2,306.11 ringgit a ton, which is within the minimum band for a levy to be applied, according to the Customs Department statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ranjeetha Pakiam in Kuala Lumpur at rpakiam@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James Poole at jpoole4@bloomberg.net

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