Govt to hold 2nd round of talks with EU to discuss palm oil matters

The talks will include discussions on discriminatory practices against the commodity and the MSPO certification


THE Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities is expected to host all 16 ambassadors from the European Union (EU) again this month, to negotiate on the bloc’s resolution against palm oil.

Its minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said the second round of meeting will include discussions on discriminatory practices against the commodity and the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification.

“We are still negotiating because the resolution does not define the kind of certification required for shipments of palm oil and palm oil products into the EU. Malaysia has developed the MSPO certification and it must be accepted in Europe,” Mah told reporters after officiating the Malaysian Palm Oil Board International Palm Oil Congress and Exhibition 2017 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Mah said he is confident that Europe will not put the resolution in force upon discussions with various EU stakeholders.

“I am confident of the negotiation and discussion. The resolution has not been legalised yet and I believe Europe will not implement the discriminatory policy. “We would want to discuss the best way to work together as a buyer and exporter,” he said.

However, Mah maintained that Malaysia will be forced to react if the policy to ban palm oil biofuel by 2020 is passed by the EU Parliament.

“It works both ways. Malaysia, Indonesia and other palm oil producing countries are also importers of many European products.

“I think we have been very firm on this. If the discrimination against palm oil takes place, we will also be forced to make similar restrictions against their products,” he said.

Mah said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak will be meeting Indonesian President Joko Widodo with discussions on protecting the palm oil market high up on the agenda.

Malaysia accounts for 29% of global palm oil production and 37% of world exports. Oil palm plantations cover over 73% or 5.7 million ha of agricultural land in the country and contribute RM38.5 billion to the nation’s economy.

The European Parliament wants to ban the use of vegetable oil in biofuels by 2020 and that will impact palm oil.

Certain EU members are also being pressured to ban palm oil imports, citing producers’ failure to adhere to environmental commitment and ill-treating the labour force.

Despite the rising import curbs, Mah is confident that Malaysia’s palm oil and commodities exports will exceed RM70 billion, after export value between January and August hit RM51 billion.

Of the total, the highest goes to the EU with RM7.5 billion, followed by China and India at RM5.4 billion and RM5.2 billion respectively. In 2016, palm oil export revenue stood at RM67.7 billion.