Recent events are showing some changes will occur on the trade agreements between Malaysia and Singapore. Only a few days ago, Malaysia has declared that it will cease the export of 4 types of fish for the first two months of 2019. What precedented that news is that Malaysia’s poultry industry will also be limiting its export supplies.
First, some demographics. Singapore is a country that has little farming land and limited fishing grounds, therefore, it imports over 90% of the food consumed in the country, according to the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA). It is understandable that Singapore will never reach self-sufficiency, although it is still working to increase its current levels in the three most prominent food items: eggs, fish and leafy vegetables. In the near future, AVA aims to increase the current 25% for eggs to 30%, 8% for fish to 15% and 7% for leafy vegetables to 10%.
Focusing on poultry, the remaining 73% is being supplied by Malaysia while the remaining 1-2% is shared by accredited farms located in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand.
Meanwhile, consumers in Malaysia have been noticing a steady weekly increase in egg prices the past couple of months with numerous complaints piling up. Because of this, investigations have been started to root out the causes for a price hike as well as Malaysia declaring it will limit or even halt its egg exports in hopes of addressing the problem internally first.
Malaysian Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail has said that an investigation has been started to check for any traces of cartel-related operations that could be affecting the constant rise in egg prices.
Furthermore, the biggest exporter of eggs to Singapore has just announced that another cause for the increase in prices is bird flu, which is like the influenza virus for humans but affects birds. The effect of eating poultry that is infected with this disease is similar to the flu but has the tendency to yield more serious complications.
Aside from cartel activities and the emergence of bird flu, another reason for limiting export supplies is to meet domestic demands. The increase in export volumes of eggs from Malaysia is hurting the domestic market.
A committee has been established by Malaysia’s Agriculture and Agro-industry Minister Salahuddin Ayub to further investigate the egg crisis. Necessary measures will be taken once a detailed report has been submitted.
In the meantime, Singapore is looking for alternative sources to meet demands, such as tapping the Philippines to be a potential poultry exporter.
Philip Willie, a Facebook user, commented on the current events from first-hand experience and mentioned the quality of the eggs coming from Malaysia.
Min Lin has also given his opinion and said that Malaysia’s decision will only hurt its own economy by losing its share in the market.