EU, Malaysia on Palm Oil Understanding

Industry players positive after EU

policymakers visit

PETALING JAYA: The recent news on

European Union (EU) lawmakers’ views on the long standing issue of the

sustainable palm oil production in Malaysia, is a positive development

for the local palm oil industry, but some uncertainties still remain.

On Monday, news reported that the EU policymakers were increasingly

convinced that Malaysia is on the same path as the EU on the

sustainability of palm oil production, however more scientific data to

support Malaysia’s case was needed.

It was reported that Dan

Jorgensen, who is the vice-chairman of the environment, public health

and food safety committee in the European Parliament, had promised to

bring Malaysia’s case on its discrimination versus other oils in the

Renewable Energy Directive (RED).

Jorgensen was on a week-long

visit to Malaysia together with two other EU MPs – Martin J. Callanan

(committee on the environment, public health and food safety) and Ole K.

Christensen (member of the ACP-EU committee).

The MPs were

impressed with the work undertaken by the government and the palm oil

industry with its efforts in sustainability.

According to

industry players, the issue has been a long standing issue between the

industry and western countries.

“We have been accused of all sort

of things from deforestation to killing of wildlife in the past. This

is a positive development especially for the Government. Industry

players have been trying to clear up the misunderstanding,” said a

player.

“It is good to note that our efforts have started to bear

fruit,” said another player, adding that the move was a positive

development for the palm oil industry. However, it still remains to be

seen the outcome of the scientific data needed for the EU to make a

decision.

The local palm oil industry has been questioned

especially by the EU on the sustainability of palm oil production for

food and biodiesel applications for some time.

Malaysia has also

been alleged to have destroyed the orang utans, forests and loss of

biodiversity by NGOs. And these NGOs have been campaigning against palm

oil imports into the EU, especially for biofuels.

Although

Malaysia was being accused by environmentalists for cutting down trees

to plant palm oil trees, the country had at least 50% of forest covered

as compared with Denmark (12%) and UK (20%).

Malaysia currently

had 22 Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified mills.

Malaysian

Palm Oil Council chief executive officer Tan Sri Dr Yusof Basiron has

recently reiterated that Malaysia had ample permanent forest reserve for

biodiversity and conservation purposes.

He stressed that palm

oil was cultivated on legal agriculture land, outside the permanent

forest reserve.

Basiron said new plantings were done on land that

was legally gazetted as agricultural land, 100% sustainable and were

all licensed and registered.

Although the recent development

provided good news to the industry, analysts expect a stricter

requirements for exporters to ship their palm oil.

“It will not

significantly affect palm oil imports into EU as only a small portion,

about 10%, is used for energy where the sustainability criteria

applies,” he said.

Source : The Star by Leong Hung Yee

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