UPDATE 1-Malaysia maintains April crude palm oil export duty at 8%

(Recasts with higher reference price, adds quotes and details)

By Mei Mei Chu

KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 (Reuters) - Malaysia has kept its April export duty for crude palm oil at 8%, though it raised the reference price, a circular on the Malaysian Palm Oil Board website showed on Wednesday.

The world's second-largest palm oil producer calculated a reference price of 4,331.48 ringgit per tonne in April, up from 3,977.36 ringgit in March.

The export tax structure starts at 3% for crude palm oil in the range of 2,250 ringgit to 2,400 ringgit. The maximum tax rate is set at 8% when prices exceed 3,450 ringgit a tonne.

"This means the duty payable on April crude palm oil shipment will be 346.52 ringgit ($84.19) or 28.33 ringgit ($6.88) higher than the previous month," said Sathia Varqa, co-founder of Singapore-based Palm Oil Analytics.

"Malaysia CPO reference prices is up for 10 straight months and Indonesia is likely to follow suit when it announces its April CPO export tax," Varqa added.

The reference price is much higher than estimates, but crude palm oil remains the cheapest edible oil for destination markets, a Kuala Lumpur-based trader said.

($1 = 4.1160 ringgit) (Reporting by Mei Mei Chu; Editing by Tom Hogue and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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