Association appeals to EU to reconsider ban on palm oil biofuels

KUCHING: The Sarawak Oil Palm Plantation Owners Association (Soppoa) has appealed to the European Union (EU) to reconsider its planned ban on palm oil biofuels.

In a statement yesterday, Soppoa said it fully agrees with Deputy Chief Minister and Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture, Native Land and Regional Development Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas that the EU ban is a threat to palm oil producers.

Uggah had said the EU’s planned ban, as part of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) in the non-food sector, would severely impact palm oil producers, particularly smallholders.

“Soppoa fully supports the Minister’s stance on the matter and requests the EU to reconsider its decision on the ban of palm oil as biofuels.

“The EU should consider the impact the decision will have on 650,000 smallholders in the country and the ban is also a discriminatory act, as rightly stated by Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong in a statement recently,” said the statement.

Mah had pointed out the ban targeting palm oil sought to phase out palm oil-based biodiesel by 2021.

“Meanwhile, other seed oils are not affected by this ban and as such this is both discriminatory and also a breach of EU’s WTO (World Trade Organisation) commitments,” said the statement.

“Furthermore, the EU is not recognising the efforts being initiated here in terms of environmental control and quality for palm oil as the industry is moving towards MSPO (Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil) certification by 2019.”

The statement said in line with the state government’s objective of developing vast rural areas, the growth of the palm oil industry is bringing much needed infrastructure into these areas as well as opening up inland areas which were formerly inaccessible.

All these developments contribute to the growth of rural communities and provide jobs as well as steady incomes while putting their vast community land base into productive assets, said the statement.

“Soppoa is fully supportive of the expansion of NCR (Native Customary Rights) land for agricultural production, including oil palm, as this will enable more people in the state to become entrepreneurs as well as providing for a bright future for their children,” added the statement.

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