The APEX is not just an offshore exchange for Chinese futures participants — as the Chinese face capital restrictions on overseas investment. Instead, the exchange offers global investors a complementary product to the yuan-denominated palm olein futures already on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, Zhu said. The palm olein futures on the APEX, meanwhile, are dollar-denominated.
"There will be arbitrage opportunities and it will help to generate more volume for all the exchanges," Zhu said.
That is particularly as there is keen international interest in what moves the market in China, said Zhu, who previously headed the Dalian Commodity Exchange and the China Financial Futures Exchange.
Although palm oil futures are heavily traded on Bursa Malaysia Derivatives, palm olein futures have not taken off on the exchange as they were denominated in the Malaysian ringgit, which has suffered volatility due to political factors and the oil price slump in recent years.
APEX palm olein has been doing well since its launch, with tens of thousands, if not well over 100,000 lots traded each day since the product's launch. Bursa Malaysia pushed out its own redesigned dollar-denominated palm olein futures a day before APEX's opening, but that product is only seeing tens of lots traded daily.
Trading volumes on the APEX's palm olein contracts were looking good after just a week of trading and stood a good chance of taking off, said David Ng, a derivatives specialist at Phillip Futures in Kuala Lumpur.
Bursa Malaysia said it introduced its dollar-denominated palm olein contract to promote a "more inclusive trading community" that is in line with enhancing product diversity on the exchange, the exchange said in an email to CNBC.
A key difference between the Malaysian palm olein contract and APEX's is the requirement that the Malaysian product delivered can be traced to sustainable sources up to the crushing mills, said Bursa Malaysia.
Sustainability is an issue in the palm oil industry as the widely used commodity — produced primarily in Malaysia and Indonesia — is blamed for rampant deforestation and labor abuses.