KUALA LUMPUR: French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has rejected allegations that his government is hostile to palm oil.
Ayrault, who arrives in Malaysia today for an official visit, gave his government’s commitment that palm oil would not be taxed.
“A proposal from (French) Parliament sought to tax products containing palm oil. This proposal was not supported by my government and was not adopted. Let me repeat that palm oil will not be taxed,” he said in an interview.
The National Association of Smallholders (Nash) has often spoken about a campaign of “misinformation” by French companies and politicians against Malaysian palm oil.
Its president Datuk Aliasak Ambia and Malaysian Palm Oil Council chief executive officer Tan Sri Dr Yusof Basiron have written an open letter to Ayrault, urging him to put a stop to anti-palm oil campaigns in France as it was a cause for concern for hundreds of thousands of small farmers as well as the industry.
The campaign against palm oil in France came on the heels of an attempt by French legislators to pass a Bill increasing taxes on palm oil products last year which was rejected by a commission in the Senate.
Ayrault said there had been considerable misunderstanding about palm oil.
“Firstly, a small number of French producers and distributors have been promoting products ‘without palm oil’.
“This is not an obligation. It is a private initiative covered by the principle of freedom of commerce. From next year, new European Union regulations will make it mandatory to identify the plant oils present in the composition of foodstuff on their packaging.
“Secondly, a proposal from Parliament sought to tax products containing palm oil. This proposal was not supported by my government and was not adopted,” he said.
Ayrault will meet Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in Putrajaya tomorrow.
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