KUALA LUMPUR: Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong led the Malaysian Delegation to co-chair the Inaugural Ministerial Meeting of Palm Oil Producing Countries (IMMPOPC) on Thursday in Bali, Indonesia.
Mah described the meeting as historic and the first of its kind, where major oil palm producing countries, led by Malaysia and Indonesia, officially congregated to address the unprecedented challenges that the industry faces.
Organised by the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) and chaired by Indonesia, the meeting was also participated by official representatives from other oil palm producing countries, including from Colombia, Guatemala, Papua New Guinea, and Thailand.
The main objective of IMMPOPC was to open up discussions and exchange views among palm oil producing countries as well as explore collaborations in areas of mutual interest, including trade policy, sustainability, smallholder productivity, and research and development with respect to palm oil.
During the meeting, Mah expressed Malaysia’s concerns regarding the growing anti-palm oil campaign in the European Union Parliament, describing attempts by the Members of European Parliament in associating palm oil and rainforest deforestation as unjust and discriminatory.
In addition, the Environment Committee (ENVI) in the EU Parliament recently voted to exclude all Palm Oil biofuels from the EU’s renewable energy market.
If the directive is adopted on the legislative level, Palm Oil would be excluded from the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED), even when other vegetable oils remain included.
This is a clear case of EU discrimination against palm oil as the ENVI Committee clearly states that competitor oilseed crops will still be allowed to continue operating under the RED, whereas Palm Oil will be excluded.
In this regard, Malaysia pointed out that the discriminatory decision to set up protectionist trade barriers is unacceptable and therefore the Malaysian Government will be compelled to respond appropriately, should this provision be confirmed in the final Directive.
Allegations made by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on the ENVI Committee relating to oil palm’s negative environmental impacts are incorrect and misleading as Malaysia’s forest protection is vastly superior to that of almost every EU Member State.
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.
In conclusion, Mah reiterated the importance of the oil palm industry to oil palm producing countries in terms of contributing to social well-being of the people and economic growth.
There are 650,000 smallholders in Malaysia depending on the industry for their livelihoods and another 3 million people involved throughout its supply chain.
The Malaysian delegation to includes MPIC secretary general Datuk K Yoogesvaran, MPOB director general Dr Ahmad Kushairi Din, MPOC chief executive officer Dr Kalyana Sundram, MPOCC chairman Datuk M Nagarajan and MPOCC chief executive officer Harnarinder Singh. — Bernama