(Recasts with Malaysian Palm Oil Council projections)
By Mei Mei Chu
KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 (Reuters) - Malaysia will export more palm oil to India, China and the European Union, the biggest buyers, in the third quarter after an easing of coronavirus curbs and an export duty exemption, a state agency and industry body forecast on Thursday.
Exports from the world’s second largest palm oil producer plunged 24% in January to May from the year before as coronavirus lockdowns shuttered restaurants and curbed travel.
Malaysia slashed its palm oil export duty until the end of the year in June in a move aimed at encouraging buying as countries slowly ease out of lockdown.
“We saw immediate movement in the marketplace after Malaysia exempted palm oil from export duty,” Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) chief executive Kalyana Sundram said in a webinar.
MPOC projected third quarter palm oil exports to rise 2.5% from the last quarter to 4.56 million tonnes as demand recovers.
Sundram said exports to India in the third quarter were projected to reach about 2.15 million tonnes due to Malaysia’s price advantage over Indonesian palm oil.
“Palm oil price discount will be the real selling point in the post-COVID-19 scenario,” he said.
Exports to China were estimated at 1.8 million tonnes, Sundram said, adding that EU demand is also anticipated to improve in the third and fourth quarters due to a drop in rapeseed oil production.
MPOC also pegged Malaysia’s total palm oil production for 2020 at 19.5-19.6 million tonnes.
Meanwhile, the Indian Vegetable Oil Producers Association (IVPA) forecast Malaysia’s production in 2020 to fall 3% to 19.2 million tonnes.
IVPA estimated production by the world’s largest exporter Indonesia to rise 3% to 46.5 million tonnes. (Reporting by Mei Mei Chu; Editing by Alison Williams and Alexander Smith)