PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia and Indonesia will team up to convince European Parliament lawmakers that the two countries are already taking proactive steps to ensure their oil palm production activities do not harm the environment.
The lawmakers’ adoption of the resolution on Palm Oil and Deforestration of the Rainforests was unfair, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.
“We know that the global community is concerned about the environment and deforestation but it is unfair just to target palm oil.
“I will be meeting my Indonesian counterpart next week because we need to work together on this matter.
“Next month, we plan to go to the European Parliament. We want to be given a chance to address the lawmakers to present our case as to why we feel the resolution is unfair to palm oil,” he told a press conference yesterday.
Malaysia and Indonesia together make up 85% of the world’s oil palm trade.
On Tuesday, the European Parliament adopted the resolution, which amongst other things, calls for a single certified sustainable palm oil scheme for exports of palm oil to Europe, based on the premise that oil palm development is one of the main drivers of deforestation and climate change.
The resolution also called for the phasing out of palm oil from EU biofuel programmes by 2020.
Mah said contrary to claims, deforestation was not just caused by oil palm cultivation.
In the case of Malaysia, the activity occupies 5.74mil hectares which only accounts for 17% of the land area.
Mah said the EU wanted to implement the single certification policy for palm oil and its argument was that certification issued by other countries was flawed.
“We are certainly concerned about the resolution as Europe is Malaysia’s biggest market for palm and palm-based products. We are unhappy that only palm oil is subjected to such certification whereas other vegetable oils are not,” he said.
The minister said he would also fight for the EU to recognise the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification, adding this was why the Government wanted all stakeholders to be certified by 2019.
By December next year, all big plantations must have the MSPO certification. Estates and oil palm smallholders are given till June and December 2019 respectively to be certified.
On palm oil performance, the industry kicked off the year with a positive performance, recording RM12.9bil in export value for palm oil and palm-based products for January and February.
This is a 41.9% increase compared with the RM9.1bil recorded for the corresponding period in 2016.
Export figures for China also rose to RM1.52bil for the first two months of the year, up 96% compared with the RM773mil during the same months last year.