Zuraida hails setting up of US-Malaysia panel to tackle forced labour claims

PUTRAJAYA: The establishment of a working committee between Malaysia and the United States to address the issue of alleged forced labour is an equitable move to resolve palm oil and rubber issues, says Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin (pic).

In welcoming the decision by the United States, via its Department of Customs and Border Protection (US CBP), to set up the committee with the Malaysian government, Zuraida said the move was a step in the right direction towards resolving a long-standing issue that had unfairly hampered local industries, palm oil and rubber in particular.

Zuraida said most of the claims of forced labour made by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other special-interest groups were not verified by the US authorities, which then resulted in Malaysian palm oil and palm oil products being banned.

"This is grossly unfair to our local industry,” she said in a statement on Sunday (May 15).

On Friday (May 13), Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan said the committee, which would focus on exchanging information and formulate policies that could support Malaysia's initiatives towards tackling the forced labour claims and issues, would meet every three months.

Saravanan also said the US CBP was expected to make a working visit to Malaysia at the end of this month and hold a workshop with the country’s industry players.

Zuraida said the government would, through her ministry, continue to see that the country's commodities industry, one of the main contributors to economic recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic, is protected from misleading propaganda spread by certain quarters. – Bernama

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