Fadillah: Unfair for EU to put M’sia as ‘High Risk’ under Deforestation Regulation

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Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said Malaysia’s deforestation rate is effectively zero and Europe putting the country as ‘High Risk’ under the EU Deforestation Regulation is unfair. – Bernama photo

KUCHING (March 16): Malaysia’s deforestation rate is effectively zero and Europe putting the country as ‘High Risk’ under the EU Deforestation Regulation is unfair, said Dato Sri Fadillah Yusof.

The Minister of Plantation and Commodities said that the MSPO (Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil) certification scheme exemplifies the country’s commitment to comprehensive sustainability standards.

As such, MSPO must be recognised by the EU as a path to compliance with the Regulation, he said.

“Europe’s determination to designate Malaysia as ‘High Risk’ under the Regulation is unjustified. Malaysia is not high risk, our farmers are not high risk and we cannot in good conscience be categorised as such,” the Deputy Prime Minister said in a statement today.

“Small farmers depend on the export of palm oil, rubber and other agricultural commodities to support their families.”

The Deforestation Regulation presents a significant stumbling block for them to access the European market, the ultimate outcome of which would be to increase poverty, reduce household incomes and harm the rural communities, he said.

Fadillah said that these actions are unjust and stand in stark contrast to the EU’s commitments outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and small farmers deserve to be treated fairly and must be exempted from the Regulation’s unrealistic demands.

As such, Fadillah acknowledged the small farmers’ concern during a townhall session on Wednesday, and assured that their collective concern about the serious consequences of the EU Deforestation Regulation on their livelihoods and Malaysia’s rural communities is heard loud and clear.

He said speeches delivered by representatives from Malaysia’s prominent smallholder organisations – the National Association of Smallholders (NASH), the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda), the Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Salcra), the Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association (Doppa), the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda) and the Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra) – were impactful and underscored the need for the EU to take action to end the discrimination against our small farmers.

To date, these concerns and demands have not been seriously addressed by EU leaders and the fate and livelihood of Malaysia’s small farmers hang in the balance, he added.

“We urge the EU to remedy the situation effectively and expeditiously. The Malaysian government, under the leadership of Prime Minister YAB Datuk Seri Anwar bin Ibrahim, and the Ministry of Plantation and Commodities are committed to protecting, supporting and defending the welfare and livelihood of Malaysia’s small farmers.”

On December 6, 2022, the EU reached an agreement on a new law to prevent companies from placing commodities linked with deforestation and forest degradation onto the EU market, or exporting them from the EU.