Malaysia: Singling out palm oil as high-risk is unfair, says minister

  • Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok says it is unfair for the European Commission (EC) to single out palm oil as a high indirect land-use change (ILUC) risk and soy as a low ILUC change risk.
  • She said the EC wants to phase out palm oil from the EU market, especially in the biodiesel sector, to reduce deforestation because palm oil will cause land use to change.
  • According to Kok, the ministry’s experts are still in Europe and in the process of justifying the case for palm oil via its scientific findings to the EC.
  • Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Dr Ong Kian Ming said that Malaysia is waiting for the European Union to clarify its anti-palm oil law before taking the matter to the World Trade Organisation’s Dispute Settlement Body (DSB).
  • He said affected WTO members, of which Malaysia is one, needs to first assess how the EU curb against palm oil breached WTO regulations before taking the matter to the DSB.
  • Kok said that as Sarawak has the most land set for oil palm, her team is holding discussions on how to handle this issue and develop suitable strategies.
  • One of the initiatives we want to implement is the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil certification.
  • Kok also targets a 10% increase in the use of palm oil and its products through the “Sayangi Sawitku” campaign.
  • Ong also said more work will be done to talk India, Malaysia’s largest palm oil importer, to reduce tariff for palm oil.
  • Meanwhile, Jeli MP Mustapa Mohamed has proposed the formation of a dedicated body comprising experts to help the government deal with the discrimination of Malaysia’s palm oil by the European market and Parliament.
  • He said the government’s efforts to deal with the problem at present are not enough to fight the European anti-palm oil movement, which is now hurting the palm oil industry.
  • Mustapa said the team must be well-trained and competent, taking up a role similar to the team Malaysia established when the United States alleged palm oil can cause health problems such as heart disease.
  • Mustapa also proposed that Malaysia work with other countries presently affected by the anti-oil campaign, like Indonesia, to form a secretariat and provide funds for the purpose.

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13-Mar-2019


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