Kok: Report of us backing off from EU lawsuit not true

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 15 Feb 2020

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has never stated any intention to back off from filing a World Trade Organisation (WTO) lawsuit against the European Union’s (EU) restrictions on palm oil-based biofuel, says Teresa Kok.

In fact, the Primary Industries Minister said the highest level legal team was examining with a fine comb a potential response to make Malaysia’s petition as watertight as possible.

Kok said this to debunk a foreign wire news service report which claimed Malaysia would be backing off from its plans to file the WTO complaint against EU.

“The report deliberately misquoted me that Malaysia no longer plans to file the WTO suit against EU restriction on palm oil.

“This was also not the thrust of my intention when the journalist interviewed me in Brussels on Feb 13 where I emphasised clearly that my mission to meet with European leaders was to explain the efforts by the Malaysian government and palm oil industry to produce sustainable palm oil, and various green conservation projects initiated by the industry,” she said in a statement.

Kok said Malaysia had always agreed to intervene as a co-complainant and join Indonesia and other palm oil producers at the opportune juncture at the WTO proceedings.

Malaysia is currently acting as an observer at the proceedings of the Indonesian suit against the EU.

Kok added that when Malaysia’s legal experts who would also sit at the WTO hearing feel ready, the government “will be prepared to mount our own independent complaint”.

“Indeed, this was the very essence of my statement to the Reuters journalist, who unfortunately appears to have twisted my statements.

“For now, we will still negotiate on these issues with the EU through bilateral meetings and negotiations,” she said, adding that Malaysia continued to view the Delegated Regulation as a discredit to the Malaysian palm oil industry’s commitment towards mandatory sustainability.

Kok was referring to the Delegated Regulation Supplementing Directive 2018/2001 of the European Union Renewable Energy Directive II (Delegated Act), which classified palm oil as unsustainable.

The Delegated Regulation created additional trade barriers and impeded Malaysia’s sustainability efforts throughout the palm oil supply chain.

Kok said she had sought the endorsement of EU leaders on the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification and to accept MSPO-certified palm oil into Europe.

She said this was in line with the announcement of seven EU countries in the Amsterdam Declaration on Fully Sustainable Palm Oil by 2020.

“In my meeting with EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson and her advisers in Brussels, I conveyed our concerns on the Delegated Regulation and EU RED II passed by the European Parliament that discriminated against the usage of palm oil in biofuel.

“I further sought for a review of the Delegated Regulation by way of an expert joint working group, and such provision is actually also embedded within the Delegated Regulation,” she said.

Kok said Simson concurred with Malaysia’s views to activate the expert consultation between EU and palm oil producers.

“Malaysia will raise its objections at the Joint Working Group of EU and Palm Oil Producing Countries to review the Delegated Regulation.

“The review process of the Delegated Regulation is planned to take place soon and should be completed by June 2021,” she said.

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