MPIC to step up palm oil promotional efforts

The promotional efforts are to prevent palm oil from being ‘eliminated totally’ as an EU biofuel source in 2030, minister says

by AZREEN HANI / Pic by TMR FILE PIX

THE Ministry of Plantation, Industries and Commodities (MPIC) will step up effort to promote palm oil before being “eliminated totally” as a European Union (EU) biofuel source in 2030.

Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin said MPIC together with relevant government agencies will intensify stakeholders’ engagement abroad to counter anti-palm oil allegations and narratives.

“I will ensure MPIC and related agencies like Malaysian Palm Oil Board step up efforts to engage with stakeholders overseas. I myself have led numerous trade missions to counter anti-palm oil allegations and narratives,” she said in a statement today.

According to her, the response has been overwhelming and she believes that Malaysian palm oil will gain increased acceptance and may even be the dominant edible oil in non-traditional markets like Europe.

The MPIC, Zuraida said, has to come to terms with a potentially steady decline of palm-based biofuels imports from the EU with exports this year seen at their lowest level in five years.

Biodiesel exports from Malaysia are projected to decline to 250,000 tonnes from 300,000 tonnes a year ago while production is expected to rise to 1.2 million tonnes from one million tonne in 2021, based on data from Palm Oil Analytics.

Malaysia initiated legal action against EU and two of its members, France and Lithuania, on Jan 15 last year, under the World Trade Organisation’s dispute settlement mechanism after EU implemented the EU Renewable Energy Directive II.

According to Zuraida, the classification exercise, done without considering Malaysia’s position and views, will affect palm oil being a potential biofuel source since its usage will be gradually reduced beginning in 2023 before being “eliminated totally” as an EU biofuel source in 2030.

“Even as the world has gradually recognised the role of biofuel, EU never ceases to amaze with is discriminatory protectionism policy with regard to palm oil even as biofuel are proven to offer strategic advantages for different sectors and stakeholders,” Zuraida said further.

She pointed out that while palm oil production is alleged to lead to deforestation and biodiversity losses, replacing it with other types of vegetable oils could be even more detrimental to the environment, in line with a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

“Unlike fossil fuels, the combustion of palm oil biofuel does not increase the level of CO2 in the atmosphere as the oil is merely returning CO2 obtained earlier from the atmosphere through photosynthesis. As such, biofuel is regarded as carbon neutral,” the minister said.