PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is standing firm on its position on the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) and will not accept any discrimination from the European Union that harms rural communities, says Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.
The Plantation, Industries and Commodities Minister said the Government would go all the way to defend the livelihood of some 650,000 small farmers who cultivate oil palm in the country.
“We will stand in solidarity with our fellow palm oil producing countries should the EU impose an aggressive trade barrier against us.
“Banning palm oil will negatively impact European trade and co-operation in South-East Asia.
“If the EU member states stop purchasing our palm oil, we will stop buying their products,” Mah said.
He said this in a statement after the EU held the 2nd trilogue meeting on Tuesday in Brussels to discuss the RED and reached an agreement on the recast of the EU by the European Parliament, which includes a decision on whether to ban palm oil-based biofuels by 2021.
Mah added that the proposed ban was an unacceptable protectionist trade barrier and a breach of the EU’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) commitments.
“We expect equal treatment for palm oil exports to Europe.
“The proposed ban would allow all other oilseed crops to continue operating under the RED, whereas palm oil will be excluded.
“This is a clear case of discrimination against palm oil producing countries,” he said, urging the European Commission, European Governments and the Council of the EU to reject the proposed ban.
Mah said recently, Malaysia has raised the issue at the WTO Technical Barriers to Trade Committee and the Council of Trade in Goods, along with Thailand, Indonesia, Colombia, Costa Rica and Guatemala.
He said apart from these countries, France, Spain and Italy have also shown support to oppose the ban, which would also strengthen Malaysia’s relationship with these nations.
“We condemn the misinformation about palm oil that has been spread in recent days in European newspapers by radical NGO activists, allied with protectionist EU industry lobbyists.
“Such deliberate falsehoods and misrepresentations are offensive and have no place in informed political debate,” he said.
He also said Malaysian palm oil meets the strictest standards of sustainability and was certified as sustainable under the RED by leading European sustainability schemes, regulated by the EU Commission.
Mah said any proposed language that does not treat palm oil equally with other oilseed crops would be fully opposed by the Malaysian Government.