Malaysia is exploring new markets for palm oil through “good connections” with several nations as environmental concerns are threatening to close off its traditional markets.

The Malaysian Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said countries such as Iran, the Philippines and Turkey, in addition to West African countries, were potential new markets, on top of maintaining existing main markets, the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) said on 8 August.

“The MPOC has been tasked to form ties with these countries in efforts to boost export of Malaysian palm oil,” said Kok.

The Malaysian palm oil industry has been hit with criticism surrounding its environmental risks, such as deforestation and its role in the annual haze outbreaks in Southeast Asia due to burning being used as a cheap way to clear land.

The EU parliament has also passed a resolution that would block imports of unsustainable palm oil by 2020 and phase out palm oil-based biodiesel from the EU list of sustainable biofuels by 2030.