Malaysia's Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin 'optimistic' chicken exports to S'pore would resume soon
Malaysia's Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said on Thursday (June 2) that he is optimistic his country would be able to bring down domestic prices of chicken and resume exports of poultry to Singapore soon.
Speaking to reporters during his four-day visit to Singapore, he indicated that the ban is unlikely to last a few months.
"We value our bilateral relationship with Singapore. This is not an easy decision for us to make.
"So we hope that it is very temporary in nature until the supply and price situation is stabilised," he said.
The export ban, which kicked in on June 1, has pushed up prices and resulted in shortages of fresh chicken in Singapore, which depends on Malaysia for one third of its chicken supply.
Over the past few days, supermarkets and wet markets ran out of fresh chicken as people rushed out to buy them before the ban.
Some popular hawker stalls and eateries also saw long queues, with a number of hawkers and restaurant owners saying they would have to close for a while as they would not be able to use frozen chicken.
Malaysia's Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob announced the move last week to block the export of up to 3.6 million whole chickens a month, in a bid to stabilise domestic supplies after the prices of chicken soared.
Malaysia has set a retail ceiling of RM8.90 ($2.78) per kilogram for chicken, but prices have gone up to RM13 per kilogram in some places according news reports.
Mr Khairy, who is in Singapore as the 71st Lee Kuan Yew Exchange Fellow, said supply chain issues had made it harder and more expensive to procure chicken feed.
He added that climate issues have also affected the time taken for chickens to grow, leading to a "very difficult situation" for Malaysia with the shortage and soaring prices.
"While countries obviously will look to securing their own food requirements. We're also well aware that we have responsibility as exporters to our neighbours, including Singapore," he said.
He added that the situation is already improving with efforts to work with poultry producers in Malaysia to increase production and secure cheaper substitutes for chicken feed underway.
"Once these things resolve itself, and we hope that it can be resolved very quickly, then, of course, we hope to resume exports of poultry including to Singapore," he said.
Mr Khairy, who arrived on Tuesday, has met Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong, and Health Minister Ong Ye Kung, among other ministers, and has also spoken at the Asia Tech x Singapore Summit.