Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Singapore expands food import ban from Japan

SINGAPORE, April 1, 2011 (AFP) - Singapore banned fruit and vegetable imports from an eighth Japanese prefecture on Thursday after detecting abnormal radiation levels, the city-state's food regulator said.
The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) suspended imports from Shizuoka after tests on a sample of its Japanese mustard spinach showed levels of radioactive iodine-131 six times higher than normal.
"Following the latest detection of radioactive contaminants in a sample of komatsuna (Japanese mustard spinach) imported from the Shizuoka prefecture, the AVA will extend its suspension of import of fruits and vegetables from Shizuoka," the regulator said in a statement issued late Thursday.
The ban makes Shizuoka the eighth Japanese prefecture to have its fresh produce exports to Singapore suspended after Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Chiba, Kanagawa, Tokyo and Saitama.
Fears of pervasive contamination in Japanese foodstuffs were heightened on Monday by reports that radiation above the legal limit was found in beef from Fukushima, where workers are trying to control a leaking nuclear plant.
The power station was crippled by the monster earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan on March 11.
Levels of radioactive iodine in the sea near the plant soared to their highest reading yet on Thursday, at 4,385 times the legal limit.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Pakistan-Malaysia Joint Business Council launched

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Malaysia Wednesday launched Pakistan-Malaysia Joint Business Council (JBC) in Kuala Lumpur. Datuk Mukhriz Bin Tun Mahathir, the Malaysian Deputy Minister of Ministry of International Trade and Investment and Saleem H Mandviwalla, Chairman Board of Investment of Pakistan launched the Council. The Deputy Minister MITI said although the bilateral trade between Pakistan and Malaysian in on an upward trajectory and has increased to $2.5 billion in 2010 from a modest figure of $449.4 million in year 2000, but there is an enormous scope for the bilateral trade to register multifold increase given we fully exploit the enormous opportunities that exit between the two countries in many sectors including the agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructure development and veterinary, fruit and vegetables. The Chairman BOI said launching of JBC would provide the private sectors of both the countries a formal platform to interact with each other for business networking and match making which in turn would help in promoting trade and investment between the two countries. Pakistan High Commissioner Masood Khalid and the Honorary Investment Councilor for Pakistan in Malaysia, Dato Salim bin Fateh Din termed the launching of JBC a step in the right direction, which would promote bilateral trade and investment relations between the two countries

Malaysia says palm oil exports to EU down

KUALA LUMPUR — Activists who blame the palm oil industry for damaging Malaysia's environment have contributed to a drop in exports to the major European Union market, a minister said Tuesday.
Environmentalists say palm oil, which is widely used as biofuel and in processed food and toiletries, is grown on vast plantations leading to deforestation which threatens rare species such as orangutans and rhinos.
Malaysia's plantation industries and commodities minister Bernard Dompok said lobbyists had pressured EU companies who use palm oil in their products.
"As a result we have witnessed a drop in the quantity of palm oil consumed within the EU," he said at the opening of a three-day meeting attended by palm oil industry leaders in Kuala Lumpur.
China, Pakistan, the EU, India, United States, Egypt and Japan, accounted for 68 percent of Malaysian palm oil exports last year.
Dompok defended the industry, which is a major foreign exchange earner for the southeast Asian country.
"The NGOs (non-governmental organisations) do not fully understand what they are talking about. One of their rallying calls is that oil palms destroy orangutan habitats but orangutans are found in small areas on Borneo island."
"We are committed to preserve people, planet and profit. That is the order," said Dompok, adding that palm cultivation has not caused the "annihilation of orangutans" on Borneo.
Malaysia is one of the world's top two palm oil exporters and alongside Indonesia, accounts for 85 percent of global production.
The minister added that Malaysia's palm oil output in 2011 will grow modestly due to improved yields.
Early this year the La Nina climate phenomenon caused floods in Malaysia, affecting the harvest and quality of palm fruit produced from which the oil is extracted.
Dompok said one of the challenges the local palm oil industry faced was the availability of land, and hence "any increase in production has to be done through productivity".
Production of crude palm oil fell to 16.99 million tonnes in 2010 compared to 17.56 million in 2009, but is forecast to rise to 17.59 million this year.
Dompok said he favoured price stability for crude palm oil over high prices which could push consumers to use other commodities.
"I am interested in stability of prices in all the commodities. I would be happy where the price of crude palm oil stays beyond 3,000 ringgit per tonne ($990)," he said.
The most-active futures contract on the Malaysia Commodities Exchange averaged 3,725.80 ringgit so far this year.

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