Hishammuddin was welcomed his counterpart from China, Wang Yi (left) before starting a bilateral meeting between the both ministers today. They will discuss the status of China’s Covid-19 vaccine, enhancing economic cooperation, post-pandemic collaborations and strengthening existing ties and cooperative efforts between the two countries. Photo: Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: China today expressed its commitment to purchase 1.7 million tonnes of palm oil from Malaysia until 2023, said Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein.

The Foreign Minister announced this in a joint news conference following bilateral meetings with his visiting Chinese counterpart Wang Yi, here, Tuesday.

“We sincerely appreciate China’s commitment to purchase 1.7 million tonnes of palm oil until (the) year 2023.

“We also discussed the opportunities in engaging trilateral cooperation using Malaysian palm oil and palm oil-based products to address food security in third countries,” Hishammuddin said.

In 2017, Malaysia exported 2.87 million tonnes of palm oil and palm oil derivatives worth RM9.42 billion to China.

Exports of palm oil and palm oil-based agriculture products to China also rebounded by 17.8 per cent in 2019 after declining for seven consecutive years.

According to the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, Malaysia’s palm oil exports to China increased by 438,747 metric tonnes — or by 31.1 per cent — to 1,848,433 metric tonnes for the period from January through August of 2020.

On enhancing Malaysian palm oil trade with China, he said both sides agreed to promote sustainability requirements for palm oil products that adhere to the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) and the Green Food label.

He said Malaysia appreciated China’s agreement to encourage its enterprises to increase the import of sustainably-produced Malaysian palm oil and other products in accordance with the market rule.

Hishammuddin said during the two-hour meetings, Malaysia and China had agreed to look forward to an early conclusion of the negotiation on a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will provide the broad framework of pragmatic cooperation between the two countries in the post-Covid-19 era.

“I hope to sign this MOU personally in my return visit to Beijing when the situation permits,” he said.

He added the two countries also agreed to establish a High-Level Committee on Post-Covid-19 Cooperation, which will be co-chaired by both foreign ministers.

The High-Level Committee will oversee the implementation of all understandings concluded within the framework of the MOU, he said.

He added that other decisions that had been made during the meeting were that both sides had agreed to continue discussions on the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) to facilitate cross border movements for business and official travels between the two countries.

“While the Covid-19 pandemic still sees no end, it is important for us to plan and discuss early. Therefore, we will jointly launch the RGL only once the situation permits for both countries to do so,” he added.

He said Wang also suggested for Malaysia and China to complement each other through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

“Malaysia reaffirmed its unwavering support for BRI based on the principles of mutual trust, mutual benefits, and shared prosperity,” he said.

Discussion between both foreign ministers also touched on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), where both countries look forward to the signing of RCEP and the launching of Apec Post-2020 Vision in conjunction with the Apec Economic Leaders’ Week (AELW) at the end of the year.

“On Asean, we welcome closer coordination and cooperation between China and all Asean member states. We also look forward for the celebration of 30th anniversary of Asean-China Dialogue Relations in 2021,” he said.

On US-China relations, Hishammuddin said Malaysia hoped that both parties would resolve to strengthen their mutual trusts and continue to converge on dialogue as a way to manage the differences.

Wang, who is also China’s State Councillor, is currently on an official visit to several Asean countries – with Cambodia as his first stop – before arriving here Monday for a two-day visit. He had last visited Malaysia in 2018. – Bernama