KUALA LUMPUR: There will be no new land clearing or deforestation for oil palm plantations, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof.
He said the government was committed to maintaining the status quo of current land use for the purpose of oil palm plantations.
“There is no new land clearing or deforestation for the purpose of oil palm plantations.
“If there are, such lands are privately owned. And they didn’t clear the forests; instead, on their own land, they replaced old crops with new ones,” he told the reporters after the Global Business Forum 2023 here yesterday.
In December 2022, the European Union (EU) announced a decision to ban the sale of palm oil and other commodities linked to deforestation unless importers can show that the production of their specific goods has not damaged forests.
The move has prompted outcries from Malaysia and Indonesia, as the two countries are the largest exporters of palm oil.
Fadillah, who is Plantation and Commodities Minister, said that external parties must engage local players before imposing a set of standards on the plantation sector.
“Everyone wants to care for the environment and the welfare of workers, including the EU or even the United States. Malaysia is also the same.
“However, while they are trying to execute it, they might have a different set of standards from us. We have different scenarios (here in Malaysia),” he added.
Fadillah also said that the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) was on par with the Europe-based Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) scheme.
“MSPO is on par with RSPO; in fact, it is even better. If they want to impose some new regulations or laws (pertaining to plantations), they need to talk to us so we can work together to ensure food security as well as take care of the welfare of the rakyat. They need to recognise our efforts,” he said.
In 2020, the United States imposed a ban on palm oil produced by Sime Darby Plantation after its Customs and Border Protection suspected of abusive labour practices.
Recently, Reuters reported that the US authorities said palm oil products made by Sime Darby Plantation were no longer produced with forced labour, hinting that the two-year import ban on the Malaysian firm would soon be lifted.
Fadillah was met after attending the forum organised by the Global Business Council and the KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific.
The Global Business Forum is a high-ranking event that aims to promote Malaysian businesses globally and encourage them to better compete and succeed in the international marketplace.
Themed “Future Forward Malaysian Business”, the forum featured a number of panel discussions and presentations.
The panellists consisted of local and international policymakers, leading analysts and researchers, and some of the most innovative companies in Malaysia, who shared their experiences, insights and valuable lessons for other businesses looking to innovate and grow.
More than 400 people, including entrepreneurs, investors, government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, and business leaders from across the country, attended the forum.