|News Provider||Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani|
|Headlines||Cuba gets US$10m palm oil credit|
Cuba gets US$10m palm oil creditWednesday, March 21, 2001 (The Star) - MALAYSIA will provide a 1.21billion yen (US$10mil) credit facility for Cuba to purchase 35,000 tonnesof palm oil under the Palm Oil Credit and Payment Arrangement (POCPA)scheme. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the facility was inked bythe two governments in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Malaysia was represented byPrimary Industries Deputy Minister Datuk Anifah Aman and Cuba by itsambassador to Malaysia, Teresita Fernandez Diaz.The POCPA agreement setting out the mechanism of credit utilisation andrepayment schedule would be signed by the two countries' central bankssoon.The POCPA scheme would be implemented by two companies one Malaysianand one Cuban over a period of 14 months. The credit facility is also tiedto a counter-trade arrangement, whereby the Cuban company will provideCuban products to Malaysia or other third countries through the Malaysiancompany. Proceeds from the exports will be used to settle the creditfacility.Anifah said the POCPA scheme was a Malaysian government strategy to expandthe palm oil market to selected countries which were experiencing shortageof foreign exchange."By doing so, we not only maintain our traditional markets but open up newones as well,'' he said.Nine countries Pakistan, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Myanmar, Bosnia-Herzegovina,Sudan, North Korea and Cuba--are participating in the scheme, which wasintroduced in 1992. To-date, some US$227.4mil of the total US$500mil incredit allocated by the government has been used."The POCPA scheme has proven to be an effective marketing tool topenetrate new and difficult markets,'' Anifah said.This is the second time the POCPA scheme has been offered to Cuba. In1998, Malaysia offered the republic a credit facility of 1.25 billion yenand Cuba bought 11,160 tonnes of palm oil.Anifah said Cuba was heavily dependent on oils and fats imports as itproduced only a small amount of its requirement.In 1999, Cuba imported 100,100 tonnes of oils and fats, with palm oilaccounting for about 23,000 tonnes or 23%.Ambassador Fernandez said the usage of palm oil was only at the initialstage and there was still a lot of promotional work to be done in thecountry.Fernandez said there may be a possibility of Cuba importing more palm oilfor use in manufacturing later.Anifah said other than exploring new markets (for palm oil), thegovernment was promoting the use of crude palm oil (CPO) to replace dieseloil at power stations and factories.Datuk Dr Abdullah Mohd Tahir, secretary-general of the ministry, saidplantation companies had agreed to set aside 5% of their annual productionfor use as fuel.