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Malaysia to pick experts for EU panel on land usage for palm oil


Teresa Kok, Minister of Primary Industries presenting a memento to Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment , Maritime Affairs and Fisheries after their meeting on October 5, 2018. - Bernama

Teresa Kok, Minister of Primary Industries presenting a memento to Karmenu Vella, European Commissioner for Environment , Maritime Affairs and Fisheries after their meeting on October 5, 2018. - Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has agreed to appoint experts to be part of the European Commission’s panel which will look into indirect land use, which is crucial to avert discrimination by the EU countries.

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said on Sunday the experts would sit in the EC’s expert panel on indirect land use change (ILUC). The decision of the panel could impact future use of palm oil as part of the biofuel mix within the  European Renewable Energy Directive (RED) II.

Kok, who is leading a palm oil mission in Switzerland, Spain and Belgium, had on Sunday welcomed the EC’s initiative for this panel which would enable consultation with palm oil producers, including Malaysian palm oil experts on various key scientific principles under ILUC.
  
“This consultation process is important as we do not want our palm oil commodity to be discriminated upon,” she said.

 “An expert panel from the European Commission will be visiting Malaysia at the end of this month to hold discussions with Malaysian experts on these issues. Our experts will sit in the panel,” she added.

 Kok said it was extremely important for the EU Expert Panel to get a firsthand account of Malaysian palm oil cultivation and processing practices. This was crucial for them to  appreciate the complexity of various operations to produce sustainable palm oil. 

The move, she said, was positive in light of concerns that EU might use ILUC criteria to justify phasing out or restricting palm oil in the RED II mandate. 

ILUC is generally not supported by industry and academic experts since the principles upon which it is based is fraught with unproven assumptions. Indeed, the very basis of defining the concept of ILUC has not been universally verified, even within the EU, according to the Primary Industries Ministry. 

Malaysia’s concern is that this could determine the future use of palm oil as part of the EU’s RED II mandate despite the uncertainty surrounding ILUC. 
 
“Malaysia is willing to listen and actively participate in any debate on ILUC. However, we stress that this should not be lopsided against palm oil and even other crops. 

“If the criteria that defines ILUC are not based on well-accepted scientific principles, Malaysia will use various international fora and trade negotiations to secure a just outcome for our palm oil exports,” she added.

During her visit, she was accompanied by officials from the ministry, Malaysian Palm Oil Board, Malaysian Palm Oil Council, Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council and Forest Research Institute of Malaysia. 

The delegation held meetings with Karmenu Vella, the European Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Director-General for Environment, Education, Transport and Energy of the Council of the European Union, Dr. Jaroslaw Pietras, and managing director (Asia Pacific) of the European External Action Services, Gunnar Wiegand. 

Earlier in Madrid, Spain, Kok met Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita to discuss the challenges facing palm oil in Europe. Both parties feel that many of these actions, including the “No Palm Oil” labels on products, are discriminatory. 

Malaysia and Indonesia, as producer nations that depend on palm oil for a healthy GDP, agree in principle to collaborate in defending palm oil’s interest and overcome the prevailing misconceptions surrounding palm oil. 

“As founding members of the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC), we aim to strengthen CPOPC membership by enrolling other palm oil producers, and use this international council to address the challenges in Europe,” she said. 

Kok stressed the Malaysian Government will continue to engage and dialogue with the various institutions in the EU to address concerns on palm oil.

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