Malaysia Palm Oil Exports Little Changed as India Buys Less

Palm oil shipments from Malaysia increased at a slower pace in the first 20 days of February on fewer purchases by countries in South Asia including India, the biggest buyer, according to an estimate by surveyor Intertek.

Exports climbed 0.6 percent to 835,612 metric tons from 830,830 tons in the same period in January, Intertek said in an e-mailed statement today. The gain was smaller than an 18 percent advance in both the first 10 days and 15 days of the month. Shipments to South Asia fell 13 percent to 180,390 tons, compared with the same period in January, Intertek data show. Shipments dropped 0.3 percent to 811,722 tons in the period, said Societe Generale de Surveillance.

In January, India imposed a tax of 2.5 percent on crude palm imports and almost doubled the benchmark price on which the tax is applicable to shield domestic growers from cheap overseas supplies. Malaysia reduced taxes on crude export to zero in January and February to clear stockpiles that reached a record 2.63 million tons in December. Reserves slid 1.9 percent to 2.58 million tons last month and prices in Kuala Lumpur gained 5.3 percent this year.

“The rise in prices may be deterring buyers from India, they may want to wait for prices to drop,” said Arhnue Tan, an analyst at Alliance Investment Bank Bhd. in Kuala Lumpur. India’s import tax may also have reduced shipments, she said.

Shipments from Malaysia will be taxed at 4.5 percent in March as the reference price was set at 2,306.11 ringgit a ton, above the threshold of 2,250 ringgit that triggers the tax.

Palm oil for delivery in May fell 0.2 percent to close at 2,561 ringgit a ton ($828) on the Malaysia Derivatives Exchange in Kuala Lumpur.

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