by ANIS HAZIM / pic by TMR FILE
MINISTER of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin Zuraida (picture) has proposed for Malaysia and Indonesia to proactively pursue their legal recourse filed with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the EU’s restrictions on palm oil biodiesel.
“I will ensure we put up an ‘aggressive’ fight against these foreign pressures and provide them with all the relevant evidence. We will show them that Malaysia is not a nation to be fooled around with,” Zuraisa said in a statement today.
She also seeks to meet the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the European Union (EU) in July to address the forced labour allegations as well as the fallout from withhold release order (WROs) issued by the US CPB to FGV Holdings and Sime Darby Plantation back in 2020.
On a similar note, Malaysia will be represented at the dispute proceeding on the EU’s alleged discrimination against the national palm oil industry from May 8 to 18 to provide another side of the story on the matter.
“It is obviously high time for the palm oil industry to take a more proactive and aggressive stance to dispel baseless claims by powerful competitors who are out there to champion other types of edible vegetable oils.
“It is time for all concerned certification bodies to come forward to defend palm oil, dispelling all the allegations,” she added.
The minister calls for all Malaysians to work together to address the anti-palm oil propaganda by Western countries which, she said, is clearly aimed at bringing down the country’s palm oil industry.
She said that it is notorious that the developed economies are against palm oil in order to protect their soybean trade.
“The European Union (EU) Parliament has voted for palm oil-based biofuels to be banned entirely by 2021. In contrast, other crop-based biofuels will be capped at 7% and enjoy a gradual reduction to 3.8% by 2030,” Zuraida said in a statement today.
According to her, the ban is linked to the EU’s belief that oil palm cultivation is responsible for deforestation.
She said that the EU’s failure or hesitance to recognise the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil standard (MSPO) and Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil standard (ISPO) is worrisome for both top two global palm oil producers.
“This is ironic, considering Europe only represents 6.4% of the global palm oil market.
“Yet, the cartel-like the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) endeavours to apply pressure from consumers in affluent Western markets on Asian palm oil producers,” she noted.
Moreover, Zuraida said it should come as no surprise if palm oil producers (like Malaysia and Indonesia) regard the EU’s anti-palm oil stance as “crop apartheid” given such behaviour re-animated the exploitative, colonial origins of the industry, citing Gambian Centre for Sustainable Palm Oil Studies (CSPO) member Muhammed Magassy.
“While the EU biofuel ban is in place, it simultaneously evokes subtle protectionism by exempting European oilseed products such as rapeseed and sunflower, which require more land, water, and fertiliser than palm oil, from any economic penalty,” she said.
Additionally, the denial of palm oil is already fuelling deep concerns among global industry players as it may influence other major export destinations to follow suit.
Recently, she said that there has been a resurgence of anti-palm oil campaigns even at the school by associating the emergence of oil palm plantations with the disappearance of orangutans.