Malaysia condemns approval of ‘unjust’ EU deforestation regulation

MALAYSIA has condemned the European Union (EU) parliament move to approve the negotiated deal on the EU’s Deforestation Regulation (EUDR), reiterating its stand that Malaysian palm oil is sustainable and one of the most-certified vegetable oils in the world today.

Deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said the EUDR is a deliberate effort to increase costs and barriers for Malaysia’s palm oil sector, including more than 450,000 smallholders.

Fadillah, who is also the plantation and commodities minister, said the deal ultimately would increase poverty, reduce household incomes and harm rural communities – outcomes that stand in stark contrast to the EU’s commitments outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“The EUDR is unjust and serves primarily to protect a domestic oilseeds market that is inefficient and cannot compete with Malaysia’s efficient and productive palm oil exports,” he said in a statement today.

The government, working alongside Indonesia, is considering an appropriate response to the regulation, given the importance of the palm oil sector and the clear intent to impose an unjustified trade barrier.

“It is disappointing to witness the EU withdrawing from the global marketplace and erecting protectionist barriers.

“This move is woefully misguided, especially Asean and Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) are gaining in influence and attracting new partners from the world.

“The government urges the EU to address Malaysia’s concerns and the entire palm oil sector effectively and expeditiously,” he said.

He said Malaysia remains open to engage with the EU to address these concerns. The EU must now commit to genuine involvement for both governments and industries from producing countries, including as part of the ongoing Deforestation Platform.

He added that Malaysian palm oil is sustainable and one of the most-certified vegetable oils in the world today.

The statement noted that The MSPO standard already guarantees Malaysia’s commitment to comprehensive sustainability standards and has helped reduce deforestation from palm oil to effectively zero.

It added that Malaysia will continue to provide sustainable and deforestation-free palm oil to its global customers.

In the statement, Fadillah restated Malaysian core position on the need for small farmer exemption, no ‘high-risk’ classification and to recognise Malayisna standards.

On the need for small farmer exemption, the statement the EU should commit to a genuine exemption for smallholders in the EUDR.

“This would prevent large European importers from cutting smallholders out of supply chains – an entirely avoidable consequence should small farmers be given proper consideration,” it said.

The statement also urged the EU to commit to not classifying Malaysia as a ‘high risk’ country nor pursuing a jurisdictional approach.

“The designation of Malaysia as high risk is unjustified. Malaysia has made, and kept, world-leading commitments to forest conservation and sustainable agriculture that have been recognised by leading global institutions such as the UN FAO and the World Bank,” it said.

On the third point, it said The EU should acknowledge the benefits of the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) standard – a mandatory sustainability certification – and recognise it as a path to compliance with the EUDR. – TMR / pic TMR File