Malaysia to promote palm oil to EU through cordial engagement

by ANIS HAZIM / Pic by TMR FILE

MALAYSIA is determined to foster a cordial engagement with the European Union (EU) in search of a win-win solution that can benefit the palm oil industry, said Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin.

The Plantation Industries and Commodities minister said Malaysia has a golden opportunity to promote the benefits of palm oil to the EU to fill the gap in the global cooking oil supply due to the shortage of soybean oil supply and sunflower.

“The world should believe in the potential of Malaysian palm oil because of the country’s numerous palm oil sustainability initiatives,” Zuraida said in a statement on Tuesday.

Notably, she said Malaysia hopes to channel various updated information on the palm oil industry, in particular from the health or nutrition and sustainability fronts to eradicate.

According to her, the engagements are currently being held through various platforms such as the Asean-EU Joint Working Group, seminar programmes or webinars and dialogues or discussions via economic and palm oil promotion missions in the EU.

“Aligned with these efforts are two initiatives, namely the Malaysia-EU partnership programmes aimed at enhancing the sustainability of the palm oil trade and the partnership under the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC),” she added.

Under the Malaysia-EU partnership initiative, there are two stand out programmes, including the Sustainability of Malaysian and Indonesian Palm Oil project and the National Initiatives for Sustainable and Climate Smart Oil Palm Smallholders (NI-SCOPS) with the Netherlands.

As for the CPOPC, she said that Malaysia is working closely with Indonesia to counter anti-palm oil campaigns at the global level, where various programmes have been or are being implemented to foil the onslaught of the anti-palm oil campaigns.

Other notable programmes under the CPOPC include the joint mission to Europe with both Malaysia and Indonesia to hold discussions and consultations with the EU to manage palm oil-related issues in Europe, the joint submission of protest letters to countries or trade blocs which discriminate against palm oil and the implementation of the EU Advocacy Programme, communication and promotional strategies in China, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh and social media campaigns among CPOPC’s member countries.

To recap, in April 2019, both Malaysia and Indonesia sent a letter of objection to the EU to criticise its decision to no longer consider palm oil as a green fuel and threaten the bloc’s ties with both countries, after the European Commission determined that palm oil has resulted in excessive deforestation and should no longer be considered a renewable transport fuel albeit with some exemptions.

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

She noted that such action followed the EU’s decision to classify palm oil as a crop with a high-risk rate towards indirect land-use change, hence, deemed to contribute to deforestation and loss of biodiversity.

Meanwhile, EU member countries are currently adopting the European Union Renewable Energy Directive II in their respective legislation.