The UK will, however, continue working with Malaysia to develop a sustainable agriculture production
by SHAHEERA AZNAM SHAH/ pic by MUHD AMIN NAHARUL
THE UK is not expected to budge from its position on biofuel policy, which will see the gradual phasing out of palm oil imports by 2030 as outlined by the European Union (EU), even with the impending Brexit.
A British High Commission spokesperson said the UK would, however, continue working with Malaysia to develop a sustainable agriculture production, particularly for the palm oil byproducts.
“The UK imports palm oil from Malaysia for many different purposes and this will not change when we leave the EU.
“However, we are also working with Malaysia towards a more sustainable agricultural production of palm oil, including our joint project on using new technology and innovation to turn palm waste into energy,” he told The Malaysian Reserve in an email reply recently.
Despite its involvement in manufacturing sustainable palm oil, the spokesperson said the UK does not utilise the commodity in its biofuels as the island nation has been promoting its waste-toenergy initiative.
“On biofuels, the UK favours the use of waste products for the production of biofuels as palm oil is minimally used for biofuels in the UK.
“In fact, we are already looking to use more waste-based biofuels, which could include, for example, palm oil mill effluent,” he said.
The UK has set a target of recycling 50% of all household rubbish by 2020, supported by its landfill tax introduced in 1996 in support of the EU’s Landfill Directive that regulates waste management within the bloc members.
According to the Malaysian Palm Oil Board, exports of palm oil to the UK declined 65% from 2013 to just 24,136 tonnes last year.
A check on the World Wide Fund for Nature’s (WWF) report on palm oil buyers in the UK showed that the commodity is being used exclusively for the manufacturing of food and beverage products and largely purchased by retailers.
The WWF reported that consumer goods manufacturer Reckitt Benckiser Group plc was one of the largest purchasers of palm oil in 2016 with 125,843 tonnes, followed by United Biscuits with 76,196 tonnes.
The EU passed the Delegated Act to restrict palm oil imports and has targeted the vegetable in its sustainable biofuel policy, linking up the commodity to deforestation.
Sunway University Business School economics Prof Dr Yeah Kim Leng said the palm oil conflict between the EU and Malaysia could be another factor in the slowing of the global economy.
“The palm oil issue could be seen as a form of protectionism by the EU. It is one of the concerns regarding the global economy as the trend of protectionism hinders global growth.
“It is not just happening in the US-China dispute, but in the JapanSouth Korea spat and now, it is likely to happen between the EU and Malaysia.
“It will only increase uncertainties and dampen global growth,” he said.