KL, Jakarta Fight EU Directive on Palm Oil

THE move by Indonesia and Malaysia, the top two palm oil producers, to

take up the industry trade dispute against the European Union (EU) will

clear the name of the commodity, says Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC)

chief executive officer Tan Sri Yusof Basiron.

There are

currently too many exaggerated figures being used to “bash” palm oil

from making its mark in the European market, he said.

“We have

done a study and there is a case against the EU for the way it has

formulated the Renewable Energy Directive and that is already against

the WTO guidelines,” he said in an interview recently.

There

was also a recent report stating that the EU, through its environmental

ministries and commissions, is funding up to 70 per cent of the

operating budgets of environmental NGOs.

Such funding implicates the EU for creating barriers to trade for

agricultural products from developing countries.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri

Bernard Dompok is expected to meet his counterpart in Indonesia later

this month on the possibility of drafting a substantive complaint

against some of the most developed countries in the EU.

“The

strategy of these big economies has stacked a lot of issues against

small countries like Malaysia, making us hapless.”

Many of

these issues were used by the environment NGOs to dispute the

sustainable agricultural practices of oil palm growers in Malaysia to

take the “heat” off the European oils like rapeseed which enjoys

subsidies.

Yusof, who has been pursuing the Malaysian fight

against the European environment NGOs for their allegations, admitted

that it could probably take years before the results are seen.

“In the meantime, we will take all avenues to correct the inaccuracies

about the commodity.”

One important fact which Malaysia and

Indonesia want to stress is palm oil’s ability to supply a vital food

component to billions of people around the world while providing

millions of jobs and income to small farmers and plantation workers.

Deforestation is also another area which Malaysia has found some

accusations unfair and unfounded.

“Why should we be dictated

when other oils are not working sustainably and, instead, continue to be

given preferential treatment while in countries like Canada there is

still deforestation going on.”

Malaysia still maintains 56 per

cent of its total land area under forest, thereby keeping its pledge

made at the 1992 Rio Summit to keep at least half of its land as

forests.

Source : Business Times by Rupa Damodaran

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