Costs have been a big hurdle but using palm oil to help pay for equipment could open new avenues to upgrade, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu said on Monday.
Mohamad said discussions on paying with palm oil had started with China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Turkey and Iran.
“If they are prepared to accept a palm barter trade, we are very willing to go in that direction,” Mohamad told Reuters in an interview.
“We have a lot of palm oil.”
Malaysia and Indonesia, the world’s two largest palm oil producers, are embroiled in a dispute with the European Union over a plan to phase out the commodity from renewable fuels used by the bloc by 2030 over deforestation concerns.
The two countries supply about 85% of global palm oil, much of which is used in food but also in items such as lipstick and soap.
Mohamad said he could not put a figure on how much palm oil Malaysia was looking to trade for defence equipment.
Besides new ships, Malaysia was also keen to acquire long-range surveillance aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles and fast intercept boats, the minister said.