PETALING JAYA: Investments into sustainable palm oil seems to be futile in the face of strengthening anti-palm oil lobby in the European Union (EU) presently, said Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok.
Kok said the EU had impeded Malaysia from achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through its continuous push to phase out palm oil from its markets.
In reference to critics who accused Malaysian palm oil as causing deforestation, she said that Malaysian forests are above the international pledge of 50% forest cover while the parties that criticised could not even claim the same.
She said Malaysia has taken various efforts to invest in sustainability and comply with sustainable practices and that these did not seem to pay off with the anti-palm oil lobby in the EU.
“The EU should assist developing countries achieve the SDGs instead of imposing onerous rules and policies that undermine their efforts,” she said in a statement.
In her speech at the European Palm Oil Conference, she also highlighted that according to the UN’s definition of sustainability, social and economic sustainability is equally as important as environmental sustainability.
The statement said that the Spanish Alliance for Sustainable Palm Oil and Spanish Biodiesel Association members had expressed their continued support for Malaysian-certified sustainable palm oil.
It also highlighted Spain’s emergence as a major destination for palm oil into Europe.
However, it said that they are also troubled by the intense anti-palm oil campaign in Spain that threatened palm oil market share.
“The meeting ended with a commitment from the parties to address the anti-palm oil campaign by jointly promoting palm oil benefits and sustainable production.
“The Spanish government had rejected the earlier EU Parliament motion to ban palm biofuels as contravening World Trade Organisation conventions,” the statement added.
The government said that Spain is a major importer of Malaysian palm oil.
According to government statistics, Spain imported 259,701 tonnes of Malaysian palm oil from January to August this year, which is an increase of 46.8% compared with the corresponding period last year.