MANILA (REUTERS) - The Philippines said on Thursday (March 28) it would form a "technical working group" with Malaysia and Indonesia to address its concern over alleged smuggling and dumping of palm oil that have lowered the domestic prices of the country's coconut oil.
Philippine Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol said in a Facebook post that he met with Malaysian and Indonesian government representatives on Wednesday in Manila, after seeking a temporary ban last week on palm oil imports from the world's two biggest producers.
Mr Pinol told the Malaysian and Indonesian officials to keep their palm oil exports to the Philippines at levels that would not hurt the local coconut and oil palm industries, according to the Facebook post.
Indonesian Trade Ministry official Pradnyawati confirmed the meeting on Thursday, saying in Jakarta that the tripartite group will "recalculate the Philippines' import needs to avoid oversupply" and discuss issues related to the palm supply chain.
There was no immediate response from Malaysian government officials to Mr Pinol's statement.
Mr Pinol said in a Facebook post on March 22 that he was seeking a temporary ban on Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil because local coconut and oil palm farmers were impacted by"extremely low" prices due to "dumping" of the commodity.
Mr Pinol said on Thursday he had also asked Malaysia and Indonesia to check on reports of the smuggling of crude and refined palm oil into the Philippines.
He also urged Indonesia and Malaysia to open their markets to products from the Philippines, especially coconut-based products, to "correct the trade imbalance".