M’sia may re-evaluate trade with France over palm biofuels stand

Malaysia will be compelled to re-evaluate options on trade with France if the country keeps its stand on palm biofuels, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.

He said this following the recent announcement by French Minister of Environment Nicholas Hulot who suggested for measures be taken to restrict the use of palm oil in biofuels, to reduce deforestation in the countries of origin.

“This has put pressure on the palm oil industry as well as the producers.

“I believe that for trade between Malaysia and France to stay strong and growing, such attack against the palm oil industry must stop,” he told reporters after officiating the Transfer of Technology (ToT) Seminar and Exhibition 2017 yesterday.

Mah said the statement by the French minister is largely misplaced, given that more than 65% of current European rapeseed oil production has been diverted for use as bio-fuels and other renewable energy associated applications.

“Yet, Europe, including France, is unable to meet its mandatory Renewable Energy Directive (RED) target and continues to depend on imported oils, including sunflower, soya and palm to meet demands within Europe. “Hulot has indeed overlooked the fact that all palm oil used in Europe under the RED mandate must be sourced only from certified sustainable sources,” he added.

He said Malaysia, as a major palm oil producer and exporter, has traditionally encouraged sustainable production of palm oil, and would adopt mandatory industry-wide sustainability certification through its own ISO benchmarked Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) standards.

“I further emphasise that Malaysian palm oil is not the dreaded driver of tropical deforestation,” he added.

Mah also called on France and other European countries to work with Malaysia in addressing concerns over sustainability, instead of issuing threats and punitive measures that serve no beneficial purpose.

The annual ToT 2017, organised by the Malaysia Palm Oil Board, is aimed at promoting new technologies and services to the oil palm industry and encourage entrepreneurs to commercialise their innovations.

Mah said at the one-day event that 18 new technologies and nine new services, which are wide ranging and covering the upstream, midstream and downstream activities of the palm oil industry, would be unveiled. — Bernama

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