KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin hopes the on-going free talks between Malaysia and the European Union (EU) on negative perceptions surrounding palm oil will result in a more permanent solution.
He hoped government officials from both sides would work towards trade-friendly solutions to address the issue on matters related to sustainability, as well as, nutritional claims.
“Last year, due to inaccurate information about the nutritional benefits of palm oil, there was an attempt by some French Members of Parliament to propose a Bill to increase the tax on palm oil from 100 euros to 300 euros per tonne.
“However, due to the farsightedness of the French government, such unsubstantiated proposal was rejected,” he said at the International Palm Oil Congress 2013 here today.
Notwithstanding these failed attempts to discredit palm oil on nutritional grounds, he said Malaysia and other nations’ concerned must continue to raise and address this issue at all levels.
In addition to the government-level efforts, Muhyiddin said business communities must also actively meet their counterparts in the affected countries to explain and broadcast the benefits of palm oil, as well as, counter the negative claims on the edible oil.
“We also need to step up collaboration with credible, renowned and impartial international research institutes to conduct nutritional studies and publish these findings in reputable journals.
“Such collaboration, resulting in testimony and verifications from professional bodies will help convince consumers and instill confidence that palm oil is healthy, safe and nutritious,” he said.
Meanwhile, Muhyiddin also urged palm oil producing countries to unite to address the issue of negative perception on palm oil to the global market.
“There have been many instances whereby Malaysian palm oil has been on the receiving end of negative campaigning, including allegations of adopting environmentally-unsustainable practices to farm oil palm,” he said.
He said these kind of developments have threatened to compromise palm oil’s position in various global markets, particularly in developed countries and Malaysia must address these allegations and accusations, head-on.
“We must ensure that there are regular engagements with governments of these countries and work towards a solution that will facilitate global palm oil trade.
“We must stress that measures designed to protect the environment should not become disguised barriers to trade, and should in all circumstances, be based on scientific evidence, thorough research and in line with the World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s principles,” he added.
Themed, “Green Opportunities from the Golden Crop”, the three-day congress will feature industry experts who will present papers and share their views at five concurrent sessions.