KUALA LUMPUR: Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok has urged Norway to review its recent decision to phase out the country's use of biofuels based on palm oil.
In a statement issued today, she said Malaysia's efforts to foster sustainable palm oil production practices in the country were "not appreciated and largely ignored by Europe, including Norway".
"We view this as unfair and unjust, going against free and fair trade, and is certainly not something we will take lightly."
On Dec 6 this year, the Norwegian Parliament voted to implement measures and taxes to exclude palm oil-based biofuels with high deforestation risk, effective Jan 1, 2020.
Kok said the Malaysian government is not convinced that the evaluation of palm oil has been fair and just. "Without clear and proper definitions and based on a decision not supported by validated facts, we are concerned that Norway, like some countries in Europe, will generalize and lump together all palm oil producers as drivers of deforestation and therefore deemed as unsustainable."
She said the move will adversely affect bilateral trade relations between Malaysia and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) as well as serve as an obstacle to the Malaysia EFTA partnership talks.
"The Malaysia EFTA partnership agreement must provide fair market access to all of the countries involved, including fair treatment of sustainable palm oil which is produced in Malaysia.
"Without this fair market access, it will not be in the interest of Malaysia to pursue what will be a bad deal for the country and its people, particularly our 650,000 oil palm smallholders whose livelihood is at stake," she said.
She added that this was the reason the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia recently declined to collaborate at the EU workshop on Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) in relation to palm oil production.
"Nevertheless, we urge Norway to review this discriminatory policy and we invite Norway’s lawmakers to come to Malaysia and see for themselves and better understand the sustainable practices that are a hallmark of the Malaysian palm oil industry," she said.
Kok highlighted that Malaysia is prescribing to the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 sustainable development goals.
It has also implemented mandatory certification of palm oil production and its supply chain via Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MPSO).
"As a responsible producer of palm oil, we have already set in motion various initiatives to ensure sustainable practices are the norm rather than the exception, throughout the palm oil value chain," she said.