Jetty closures in Malaysia's top palm state to hurt exports: industryJetty closures in Malaysia's top palm state to hurt exports: industry
FILE PHOTO: A worker unloads palm oil fruit bunches from a lorry inside a palm oil mill in Bahau, Negeri Sembilan

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Palm exports from Malaysia’s biggest producer of the edible oil, Sabah state, will be hit by a closure of private jetties due to coronavirus-related curbs, an industry body said on Saturday.

Sabah accounts for about a quarter of the total palm oil produced in Malaysia, the world’s second biggest producer and exporter of the widely used vegetable oil after Indonesia.

More than 16 private jetties operated by Sabah plantation companies to ship fresh fruit bunches, crude palm oils and palm kernels have been temporarily closed following an April 17 order from the local port authority, the Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) said in a statement.

Malaysia is under a March 18-May 12 partial lockdown to contain the virus, which has so far infected 5,742 people in the country, 98 of whom have died. Many industries such as palm plantations, however, have been allowed to operate with reduced staffing.

“The downstream sector in Sabah which includes the refineries and kernel crushing plants will see their raw materials reduce, thus affecting their production and ability to fulfil the committed supply contracts,” the MPOA said, urging the authorities to open up the jetties.

“Important of all, they are not able to carry out shipments of finished products for exports to other countries.”

The Sabah port authority had no immediate comment.

(Reporting by Mei Mei Chu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)