M’sia objects to Norway’s palm oil ban

Norway has emerged as the 3rd European country to have passed a resolution to ban palm oil

By RAHIMI YUNUS / Pic By BLOOMBERG

Malaysia has officially expressed its displeasure over the Norwegian Parliament’s recent vote to ban palm oil-based biofuels in the Scandinavian country.

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said Malaysia has communicated its strongest protest to the parliamentary decision, via Norwegian Ambassador to Malaysia Gunn Jorid Roset.

The objection will be conveyed by Roset to Norwegian lawmakers soon, Kok told a press conference in Putrajaya yesterday.

“I have spoken to the Norwegian ambassador over the phone, and she is flying back to her country. She will meet the parliamentarians and some government leaders to convey Malaysia’s protest against the resolution,” she said.

Kok said the federal government also welcomes Norwegian parliamentarians, as well as any parliamentarians from Europe to visit Malaysia and witness for themselves the best practices applied in oil palm plantations, before imposing any trade restrictions.

Norway has emerged as the third European country to have passed a resolution to ban palm oil, following Switzerland and France.

Last month, the Norwegian Parliament voted to stop the use of palm oil-based biofuels starting from 2020. Alleged irresponsible and unsustainable deforestation by oil palm planters are behind the move.

According to the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), demand for Malaysian palm oil from Norway has been on the rise. Malaysia exported 846 tonnes of palm oil to Norway between January and November 2018, in contrast to 569 tonnes for the same period in 2017.

While reiterating that bans on palm oil were unfair, Kok said such moves by European countries could jeopardise the warm bilateral trade ties between Malaysia and the European Free Trade Association.

She added that Malaysia remains ready to work with Indonesia to escalate the protest against palm oil bans to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), though such move would be reserved as a last resort.

Kok stressed that Malaysia will not act tit-for-tat against Norway in trade, as such move would not be beneficial and would contradict with the WTO.

Meanwhile, she said crude palm oil (CPO) prices are expected to average at RM2,700 per metric tonnes this year, supported by increasing demand from India following the country’s recent move to slash import tax for palm oil.

MPOB data shows that the CPO price closed at RM2,019 per metric tonne on Jan 2.