Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said that the ministry was fully aware of the negative sentiment on the palm oil industry in major European Union (EU) countries, and stressed that the allegations were nothing new.
“The ministry is ready with credible facts and figures to face those unfair, biased and distorted allegations about the palm oil industry,” he said in a statement on Thursday.
A resolution by the European Parliament recently called for the EU to phase out by 2020 the use of vegetable oils in biodiesel that are allegedly produced in an unsustainable way leading to deforestation. The resolution includes palm oil.
Mah said Asean leaders had shown strong support when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak expressed Malaysia’s concern on the resolution during the 30th Asean Summit in Manila last week.
Following the summit, the Asean member states issued an official statement, urging the EU to recognise the certification of the Sustainable Palm Oil Schemes in the palm oil producing countries in the region, and acknowledged that the related government-led sustainability certification was a manifestation of Asean’s commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
Mah said the consensus were truly people-oriented, as the palm oil industry in the region involved 3.5 million smallholders, mainly from Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
On average, the EU imports between seven million tonnes and 7.5 million tonnes of palm oil annually.
In 2016, Malaysia accounted for 29.4% of the EU’s total palm oil imports, while Indonesia made up 48.6%.
The EU is the largest market for Malaysian palm oil and palm-based products, with imports valued at RM9.9bil and accounts for 14.7% of Malaysia’s global exports in 2016. - Bernama