PUTRAJAYA: The setting up 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 industry issues, says Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin.
In welcoming the decision by the United States via its Customs and Border Protection Department (CBP) to set up the committee with the Malaysian government, she said the move was in the right direction to resolve the long-standing issue that had unfairly plagued local industries, in particular palm oil and rubber.
Zuraida added that most of the claims of forced labour made by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other interest groups were not verified by the US authorities, which then resulted in Malaysian palm oil and palm oil products being banned, Bernama reported.
“This is grossly unfair to our local industry,” she said in a statement yesterday.
Last Friday, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan said the working committee, which would focus on exchanging information including formulating policies that could support Malaysia’s initiatives towards combating forced labour, would meet every three months.
He also said the CBP was expected to undertake 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, through the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry, would continue to ensure Malaysia’s commodity industry, one of the main contributors to the economy, was protected from misleading propaganda from various quarters.