M’sia hopes to convince EU

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia is hoping to convince the new members of the European Parliament that its palm oil business is sustainable, says Teresa Kok.

The Primary Industries Minister will be travelling to Europe early next year to have a meeting with newly-elected European Union politicians to help clear “misconceptions” about the palm oil industry here.

“I want to present to them what Malaysia has been doing for the past two years. Europe wants our palm oil to be sustainable, so we will show them that we are doing it.

“Even the smallholders are sustainable. The government is helping them by getting them to be certified under the MSPO (Malaysia Sustainable Palm Oil) scheme.

“Our industry players are replanting trees and also contributing to the conservation of orangutan and elephants, ” Kok told reporters after chairing her ministry’s monthly assembly here.

She said that one of Malaysia’s efforts towards conservation is to impose an additional RM1 per tonne of palm oil produce starting next year, which will be put into a “green fund” that the government will use for green initiatives and wildlife conservation purposes.

“We are going to use the money to plant more trees in the forest and also contribute to wildlife conservation. So these are all good stories.

“We want to tell Europe that as we are moving towards this green agenda, which they endorse, we hope they can accept and recognise our MSPO scheme.

“We hope they can buy palm oil from us and also stop throwing all sorts of accusations against the palm oil industry, ” said Kok.

On the ministry’s target to achieve 100% MSPO certification by Dec 30, Kok said the challenge was to convince smallholders to come aboard.

“However, we have seen an increase of awareness among them on the importance of being certified. “At the end of last year, only 17% of the palm oil industry players were certified, but as of yesterday (Thursday), the number has gone up to 62.14%.

“I am confident we can reach 70% by February before I head to Europe. With these positive figures, I can present a better case for our palm oil industry, ” she said.

Kok also said that the price of crude palm oil (CPO), which is currently approaching the RM2,800 per metric tonne level, is expected to continue rising.

She said the B20 biodiesel programme for the transportation sector, which the government is expected to launch next year, can help stimulate the CPO price to RM3,000 per metric tonne.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is expected to launch the biodiesel programme on Feb 20.

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