Fight palm oil industry bullies, says Zuraida 

by FAYYADH JAAFAR / pic by TMR FILE

PLANTATION Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin is calling on Malaysians to together fight groups and individuals who are trying to destroy the palm oil industry.

She said among the “bullies” is the European Union (EU), who has implemented the Renewable Energy Directive II.

“Such a classification exercise will affect palm oil’s potential as a biofuel source since its usage will be gradually reduced beginning 2023 before being totally eliminated as EU’s biofuel source in 2030.

“This has led to Malaysia initiating legal action against the EU and two of its members, namely France and Lithuania, on Jan 15, 2021, under the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Dispute Settlement Mechanism. 

“Such a development came about after the EU implemented the directive without considering Malaysia’s commitment and views, even after we had given it feedback and sent economic and technical missions to Europe,” she said in a statement today.

As a sign of solidarity and support, the minister also said Malaysia would act as a third party in a separate WTO case filed by Indonesia, which is the biggest palm oil producer in the world.

She added that thus far, no other restrictions have been imposed by the EU on palm oil. 

However, the fact remains that medium to long-term damage has already been inflicted on palm oil’s image in the eyes of European consumers.

“In this regard, the Plantation Industry and Commodities Ministry (MPIC) will continue to closely monitor the latest developments from a legislative standpoint by the EU, which can potentially tarnish the reputation of palm oil, hence adversely affecting the viability of the palm oil and palm oil-related industry in Malaysia.

“I call upon all Malaysians to join MPIC and rise up to defend our palm oil in the eyes of the world,” she said.

Zuraida explained that the smearing campaign, which created negative perceptions towards palm oil, if not systematically and strategically put to rest, can affect the competitiveness of Malaysian palm oil exports in the long haul.

“As the world’s top palm oil producers, Malaysia and Indonesia have for the past two decades or so been subjected to numerous anti-palm oil campaigns by Western countries and the developed world, which eventually affected the marketability of palm oil and its related products in these markets,” she added.

The current practice of “no palm oil” or “palm oil-free” labelling in France and Belgium can be traced back to 2008, when the French retail chain Carrefour started to substitute palm oil in potato chips with sunflower oil.