Ban on palm oil biofuels a step backwards on EU-Malaysia relations, says Mah

30.11.2017

The government describes European Union (EU) Parliament’s Industry, Research & Energy Committee (ITRE) to endorse the ban palm oil biofuels as a step backwards for EU-Malaysia trade relations.

Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said the move clearly shows the EU intentionally plans to restrict the imports of palm oil biofuels.

Following the European Parliament's Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) vote in October this year, the ITRE on November 28 voted the ban on palm oil biofuels from EU’s renewable energy under EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED).

"In this regard, the government would like to reiterate its firm position to condemn the discrimination and describe it as unjustified and without basis.

"EU governments, exporters, and others must reflect on the harm caused by such a discriminatory approach to Malaysian Palm Oil exports," Mah said in a statement today.

He said any attempt to discriminate against, or exclude, palm oil biofuels will negatively impact European trade and cooperation in Malaysia, and the wider South East Asian region.

In addition, Mah said the ITRE Committee endorsement would allow competitor oilseed crops to continue operating under the RED, whereas palm oil will be excluded.

"The government views this as an unacceptable protectionist trade barrier, and a breach of the EU’s World Trade Organization (WTO) commitments.

"Therefore, the government will respond strongly, should this provision be confirmed in the final directive as protectionist discrimination against Malaysian palm oil exports will not be tolerated," he said in a strong-worded statement.

Further, the government will be compelled to take every necessary action to protect the rights of 650,000 Malaysian palm oil small farmers, and to secure the future of the palm oil sector that has lifted millions of Malaysians out of poverty, Mah added.

As world-leading sustainable palm oil producing country, Malaysia has demonstrated serious commitment towards sustainability by making the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil standard (MSPO) to be mandatory for all Malaysian producers.

Malaysia’s forest protection is vastly superior to that of almost every EU Member State and Malaysia has one of the most advanced forest protection regimes in the world, as recognised by the United Nations and the World Bank, among others.

Over and above, Malaysian palm oil exporters are able to meet the strictest standards of sustainability required by our European customers, and Malaysian palm oil biofuel exporters have been certified as sustainable by leading European sustainability schemes, including the German ISCC (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification).

"Therefore, the government interprets the attempts by EU Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) as insulting and denigratory.

"Continued false and misleading allegations made by MEPs relating to palm oil’s environmental impact is a clear attempt to smear the good name of Malaysian palm oil," Mah said.

Mah urges the interim ministerial task force to intensify its ground work of monitoring and measuring developments in the EU Parliament, including the sentiments amongst the MEPs, under the leadership of MPIC Secretary General Datuk K Yogeesvaran.


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