POC2013 to see solid turnout

KUALA LUMPUR: The Palm and Lauric Oils Outlook Conference (POC2013) attendance is set to match that of last year despite a global economic downturn.

In an interview with Business Times here recently, Bursa Malaysia Derivatives chief executive officer Chong Kim Seng said some 2,000 delegates from more than 50 countries have confirmed their participation. 

In view of the conference themed "Price Volatility - Ride It, Manage It", he noted that many vegetable oil traders have been leveraging on futures markets as prices fluctuate on volatile global economic developments. 

Delegates will be benefiting from insightful views on vegetable oils price trends. Among the notable luminaries attending are CME Group chief executive officer Phupinder Gill, Chinatex Grains and Oils Import & Export Co Ltd chief economist Xu Jian Fei and Indonesian Palm Oil Board chairman Derom Bangun.

For more than 20 years, the POC series have been able to attract top executives from major companies, traders and even foreign government officials to converge here and get a feel of where palm oil prices are heading.

Following the partnership between CME Group and Bursa Malaysia a few years ago, Chong said traders were introduced to palm oil contracts on CME Globex, the same electronic trading platform as CME Group's existing suite of agricultural products.

Celebrity-status palm oil analysts Dorab Mistry and Dr James Fry are due to arrive here today and give their forecasts on Wednesday.

The palm oil industry has had a rough ride last year. From a high of RM3,600 per tonne in April 2012, crude palm oil prices tumbled to a low of RM2,200 in October.

Since then, prices have somewhat stabilised. Last Friday, the third month palm oil futures on the Malaysian Derivatives Exchange closed RM30 lower at RM2,367 per tonne.

When Malaysia first started the annual palm oil conference 24 years ago, the government had to pay for the participants' hotel charges to start the ball rolling.

Today, POC2013 can afford to charge people to attend and they still come despite the global economic downturn and high fees.

Although Malaysia is no longer the world's biggest palm oil producer nor home to the world's largest market for palm oil derivatives, palm oil prices continue to be quoted from Kuala Lumpur.

Traders like Bursa Malaysia's convenient trading environment. In the past year, the stock exchange had introduced new services like NLTs (Negotiated Large Trades) and EFRPs (Exchange Futures for Related Positions) and launched OCPO (Options on FCPO). 

Chong said these new initiatives have helped market participants to better leverage the use of futures and options for their price risk hedging and management.