Indonesian Exchange Begins Trading Rupiah Palm Oil Futures

The Indonesia Commodity and Derivatives Exchange on Friday started trading a rupiah-based palm oil futures contract aimed at setting a new benchmark and rivaling the dominant market in neighboring Malaysia.

“The ICDX is optimistic about fulfilling Indonesia’s aspiration to become the commodity price reference, especially for crude palm oil,” Megain Widjaja, president director of the exchange, said in a statement.

Indonesia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil, followed by Malaysia, where the benchmark contract is traded.

Palm oil futures in Kuala Lumpur have dropped 6.8 percent this year to 2,481 ringgit ($747) a metric ton on the Malaysia Derivatives Exchange.

The ICDX August CPO futures contract opened at Rp 7,020 per kilogram ($758 a ton).

The launch of the rupiah-based crude palm oil contract marked Indonesia’s second attempt at creating a local price benchmark to rival Malaysia’s. It won’t be easy.

The absence of regular data from Indonesia and most users’ preference for Malaysia’s pricing benchmark will also make it tougher for the Indonesian contract to gain a toehold.

Last year, global vegetable-oil dealers and Southeast Asian plantation firms cited the lack of transparency in industry data as a reason for shunning the trading of physical CPO contracts that debuted on the Jakarta Futures Exchange.

Industry officials and analysts fear the same fate could await the ICDX, even though there is demand for a benchmark price in Indonesia, whose production is expected to rise to nearly 23 million metric tons this year, outstripping Malaysia’s 18.1 million tons.

Unlike Malaysia, however, Indo­nesia does not have a strong industry regulator that releases reliable data on monthly production, exports and stocks.

“It is not easy to launch a futures contract because we have to persuade people to trade here,” said Deddy Saleh, head of supervision at the ICDX. “But we expect the contract will be liquid.”

Posing an additional challenge is a plan by the CME Group, the world’s largest futures exchange, to introduce a dollar-denominated palm oil contract on Monday based on settlement of the Malaysian contract.

The trading of the new rupiah contract comes as the exchange received five new members: PT Asian Agri, PT ED and F Man Indonesia, PT Askap Futures, PT Bakrie Sumatera Plantations and PT Real Time Futures, the exchange statement said.

The existing 20 members include units of Wilmar International, the world’s largest palm oil trader, and PT Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology, a unit of Indonesia’s biggest producer, Sinar Mas Group. The bourse started trading gold futures on March 31.

The new contract, using the ports of Dumai and Belawan on Sumatra island as points of delivery, will be traded in 10-metric-ton lots to allow smaller local plantations to participate, Megain said.

Sumatra is the main producing region.

Trading runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

The Jakarta Futures Exchange, established in 2000, offers a palm olein contract in rupiah.

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