Malaysia-EFTA Trade Relations Impacted By Norway’s Palm Oil-Based Biofuels Ban

Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

KUALA LUMPUR • The decision by Norway, the first country in the world to ban palm oil-based biofuels, will adversely affect trade relations between Malaysia and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), says Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok.

Norway is a member of the EFTA.

Kok said Norway’s stand would be a major obstacle towards a successful conclusion of the Malaysia EFTA partnership talks.

“We are not convinced that the evaluation of palm oil has been fair and just. Without clear and proper definitions, and based on a decision not supported by validated facts, we are concerned that Norway, like some countries in Europe, will generalise and lump together all palm oil producers as drivers of deforestation and therefore, deemed as unsustainable,” she said in a statement today.

Kok was responding to the Norwegian Parliament’s vote earlier this month to limit and phase out palm oil through measures and taxes in biofuels policy beginning 2020.

“This misguided ‘trend’ was also the basis for the reason why the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries, which include major palm oil producers Indonesia and Malaysia, recently declined an invitation to collaborate at the European Union’s workshop on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) in relation to palm oil production, due to a lack of transparency and credibility with respect to the whole ILUC process.

“This sort of action smacks of injustice and discrimination against products from developing countries like Malaysia,” she said. 

As a responsible producer of palm oil, Kok said Malaysia had already set in motion various initiatives to ensure sustainable practices would be the norm rather than the exception, throughout the palm oil value chain.

“Malaysia as a nation subscribes to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 sustainable development goals,” she added.

Kok said the ministry noted that the Norwegian Parliament had asked its government to limit and phase out palm oil through measures and taxes in biofuels policy that “exclude biofuels with high deforestation risks both within and outside the blending mandate”, effective Jan 1, 2020.

“Nevertheless, we urge Norway to review this discriminatory policy and invite Norweigian lawmakers to come to Malaysia, see for themselves and better understand the sustainable practices that are a hallmark of the Malaysian palm oil industry,” she added. — Bernama