KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has invited Thailand to join the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) as a member to create a stronger voice to address discriminatory protectionist measures against palm oil and rubber producers at Asean level.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, who is also Plantation and Commodities Minister, said that with Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand joining forces, they could speak with a bigger, louder voice.
“We will undertake a joint mission to Europe to discuss with their leaders and members of Parliament to explain our efforts not only in terms of business and economy but also the smallholders’ dependence (on the plantation industry as their source of income).
“In the palm oil sector alone, nearly 500,000 plantation workers rely on the industry for a living, and if we include smallholders, the total number will be larger.
“So we need to explain to them that whatever they implement has the potential of affecting the income of these smallholders who depend on what they produce,” he said on Bernama TV’s Ruang Bicara programme, titled “Budget 2023: Building Malaysia Madani”, aired last night.
A CPOPC ministerial meeting will be held in May with Malaysia being the chairman this year.
Fadillah said CPOPC would deliberate on strategies to address the external challenges, particularly from the European Union (EU) and the United States (US).
Among the challenges or pressures faced is the implementation of the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) based on the premise that commodity products should be deforestation-free and not be produced through forced labour.
“We have given our commitment towards environmental sustainability. That is why we have established the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification standard and Indonesia also has its Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil.
“We also seek to safeguard against forced labour. Through MSPO, we have a system for detecting the sources of palm oil to enable us to meet whatever standards are set by Europe and the US.
“The issue is, is the real reason for the rules to protect the environment? That is the question, as it may also be used as a trade barrier to protect their self interests and own oil products,” he said.
Speaking to Bernama after the programme, Fadillah said the government would work together with the kenaf plantation industry players to explore further the potential of the commodity, which could generate revenue for the country.
He said various studies were being conducted to explore the possibilities and benefits, including developing it into construction materials.
“We have to study how to produce quality seeds, the harvesting process, the process to extract fibre from kenaf, and the downstream products as well as the whole commodity chain,” he added. – Bernama
Source : NST