ISLAMABAD: Pakistan may import as much as 180,000 tonnes of palm oil for July and has covered a lot of its requirement of the vegetable oil ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a top industry official said on Wednesday.
Ramadan, when fasts during the day are followed by feasts and dinner gatherings at night, will start in the first week of August, boosting edible oil consumption in the Muslim-dominated country of nearly 180 million people.
“Pakistan has already covered a lot for the Ramadan requirement by buying huge volumes for June and July shipment,” Rasheed Jan Mohammad, vice chairman of the Pakistan Edible Oil Refiners' Association, told Reuters.
“It is expected that Pakistan's June volume would be around 150,000 tonnes and for July, it could be between 175,000 and 180,000 tonnes.”
Pakistan, the world's fourth-largest buyer of vegetable oils, imports 80 per cent of its palm oil, with Malaysia providing roughly 90 per cent of that and the rest coming from Indonesia.
Jan Mohammad, however, pointed out that Pakistani importers, who stocked up for Ramadan at high rates, had taken a hit as global palm oil prices dipped in the past 10 days.
Malaysian palm oil futures rose 1.5 per cent on Wednesday as traders continued to adjust their positions and eye strong export data after the market fell to an eight-month low earlier this week. It has dropped about five per cent in 10 trading sessions.
Malaysia -- the world's No.2 palm oil producer – shipped 109,885 tonnes of palm oil products between June 1-25 to Pakistan, according to the Malaysian cargo surveyor Societe Generale de Surveillance. Jan Mohammad said about 15,000 tonnes was likely to come from Indonesia.
Pakistan charges 15 per cent less duty than the standard rate on Malaysian crude palm oil import under a 2007 tariff agreement. Indonesia had been pushing Pakistan for the same terms, but talks between the two countries on a preferential trade agreement have hit a deadlock.
Pakistan imported 1.79 million tonnes of palm oil products and crude palm oil in the first eleven months of the 2010/11 (July-June) fiscal year, up more than 16 per cent from the same period a year ago, according to official estimates.
Pakistan's annual edible oil consumption is more than three million tonnes.