More action needed to stop EU’s threat to ban palm oil in biofuels

KUALA LUMPUR: More engagements, consultations and follow-up actions are needed to remove the European Union’s (EU) threat to ban palm oil use in biofuels, said industry veteran Tan Sri Dr Yusof Basiron.

The former Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) chief executive officer told Bernama that Malaysia’s stance was still not being heeded by the EU Parliament, despite various talks and engagements being undertaken and conducted at the government-to-government level.

“There have been clear statements by the governments of major palm oil-producing countries to oppose the ban and even those hinting at possible trade actions or retaliation, including consulting the World Trade Organisation, to deter the EU from implementing the discriminatory ban on palm oil for biofuels,” he said.

Yusof said the MPOC and Malaysian Palm Oil Board representative offices in the EU had recognised the need to counter the ban when the threat first emerged.

As a result, many initiatives had been taken, including continuous talks with the EU countries, to oppose the proposed ban by the trading bloc.

The EU Parliament voted on January 17, 2018, to ban palm oil-based biofuels by 2021, while other vegetable oil-based biofuels such as those from soya oil and rapeseed oil can continue to be used until 2030.

Spain was the latest EU country to speak out against the resolution after France, Sweden, the United Kingdom (Conservative MPs who are part of the governing party of Prime Minister Theresa May), Germany and the Netherlands.

Yusof said palm oil-producing countries had reacted to this singling out of palm biofuels for the ban as a trade discrimination that would affect the imports into the EU, because locally-produced soya and rapeseed oils were not similarly subjected to the ban.

“There are also Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) who are sympathetic to maintaining good trade relations with palm oil-producing countries. This is reflected in an amendment submitted by 57 MEPs to drop the ban on palm biofuels. Nevertheless, 492 MEPs voted in favour of the ban, although the number was far less than the 640 who had voted for it in April 2017,” he said. — Bernama

 

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