By LYDIA NATHAN
Malaysia’s palm oil mission to the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, managed to state its case on the sustainable practices of the local industry in the face of the pressure from environmentalists and non-government groups against the use of the edible oil in the Euro- pean Union (EU).
The mission was in response to a call by the EU in April to phase out the use of vegetable oils such as palm oil derived from unsustainable practices and deforestation for the production of biodiesel by 2020.
Led by Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, the mission discussed the EU Resolution on Palm Oil and Deforestation with EU commissioners and EU Members of Parliament (MPs).
The mission saw Mah engaging in discussions with MPs including the EU Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries commissioner Karmenu Vella and Industry, Research and Energy Committee chairman Jerzy Buzek.
Mah explained Malaysia’s position, national policies and various actions adopted throughout the industry to ensure Malaysia will remain the world leader in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in relation to the palm oil industry.
The EU MPs were also acquainted with Malaysia’s ongoing commitment to palm oil cultivation.
“The Malaysian government wants to make it mandatory for palm oil producers and processors to adopt the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil certification by 2019”, Mah noted in a release yesterday.
Mah added that the appreciation of Malaysia’s driving role in the sustainability agenda is not known outside of similar industry circles.
“The enthusiasm shown by the MPs for our sustainability practices is a great opportunity for Malaysia,” he said.
He also convened three round-table discussions with palm oil stakeholders in Europe including the European Palm Oil Alliance, European Sustainable Palm Oil Advocacy Group and International Sustainability and Carbon Certificate, each pledging to cooperate and support Malaysia’s efforts in Europe.
The export of palm oil to the EU in 2016 was valued at RM10.26 billion, while palm-based products were valued at RM5.19 billion and oleo-chemicals at RM3.11 billion.
From January to March 2017, exports of palm oil were valued at RM2.78 billion, an increase of 27.3% compared to the same time period last year.