KARACHI - Lt-Gen (retired) Abdul Qadir Bloch, federal minister for states and frontier regions, said on Saturday that security situation in the country had improved over the last couple of years and Pakistan is now a favourite destination for investment.

He was speaking at a ceremony on day-3 of the Pakistan Edible Oil Conference (PEOC), which was meant to highlight the issues facing the industry.

Renowned speakers and industry experts presented read their papers and analyzed the market on this occasion. All the leading brands of Pakistan had set up their stalls on the sidelines of the conference to showcase their products.

“Pakistan has been fight terrorism for many years and it has conducted several operations to eliminate terrorists and restore peace in the country. Now, there is no security issue in Pakistan and economy is on the go,” Baloch said. He said that a large number of foreign delegates at the conference was evidence that Pakistan’s security situation was much better than previous years.

Chaudhry Jaffar Iqbal, minister of state for maritime affairs, said the government of Pakistan was fully committed to facilitating the business community for a long-term economic growth. He said that presently three ports -- Karachi Port, Port Qasim and Gwadar Port -- are fully operational and providing state of the art services to traders.

Rasheed Jan Muhammad, chief executive of the PEOC 2018, said in his welcome address that Pakistan was a very significant market with annual consumption of around 4 million tons of edible oil. “I strongly believed that this conference will be very conducive for all stakeholder of the industry,” he added.

He also thanked Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association (PVMA), All Pakistan Solvent Extractors’ Association (APSEA), Pakistan Edible Oil Refiners Association (PEORA) and Pakistan Soap Manufacturers Association (PSMA) for giving their support to the conference. He hailed the role of Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) and Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) and GAPKI and BPDPKS of Indonesia for their kind support.

Rasheed said in his presentation on “Emerging Trends In The Edible Oil Sector - A View From Pakistan” that import and consumption of edible oil in Pakistan was gradually increasing. He said that during 2017 per capita consumption went up to 18kg primarily because of increase in population and improvement in buying power of the middle class.

He said that total edible oil consumption in the country surged to 4 million tons annually, including 0.4 million tons of domestic production and some 3 million tons of imported edible oil. Some 0.7 million tons of oil was extracted from imported seeds.

“The import of edible oil in 2017 was highest in the history and some 19 percent higher than 2016. This could be attributed to the increase in demand but overbought, which resulted in too much pressure on the local market,” he added.

Pakistan’s major edible oil imports are from Malaysia and Indonesia, however despite some increase in Malaysia’s share, Indonesia is still dominating in the Pakistan’s oil trade. During the last year, import of palm oil products from Malaysia was 0.57 million tons (with 20 percent share) and some 2.2 million tons from Indonesia (with 80 percent share). Overall import of oilseeds increased by 36 percent in 2017 compared to 2016. In addition, imports of soybeans posted a substantial increase of 100 percent during the last year.

While presenting the international market scenario, Rasheed Jan Muhammad said that Malaysian palm production was 19.92 million tons in 2017 compared to 17.32 million tons in 2016 and was expected to be around 20.5 million tons in 2018. Similarly, Indonesian palm production was around 36 million 2017 as against 32.3 million tons in 2016 and it may be 38 million tons in this calendar year.

He revelled that Indian import of edible oil during 2016-17 was 15.07 million tons up from 14.57 million tons in 2015-16 and expected to be around 15.80 million tons in 2017-18.

Khawaja Arif Qasim, chairman of PEOC, said that edible oil sector was among five leading spinners of Pakistan and alone contributing some Rs120 billion annually to national exchequer.

This conference is being organized by all the four associations which are related to edible oil /oilseed and soap industry -- PVMA, APSEA, PEORA, PSMA.

During the conference, speakers said that since the import volume of edible oil and oilseeds was growing and had touched the unprecedented level of 3.00 million tons each for the calendar year 2017, this conference was a significant event.

On the occasion, Khawaja Arif Qasim, Tanveer Ahmed Sufi, Basheer Jan Muhammad, Mian Muhammad Hanif, Tariqullah Sufi, Atif Rasheed, Mian Azhar, Najaf Mirza, Dr James Fry, Emily French and others also spoke.