PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia is hoping for Asean to make a collective stance against the European Union (EU) parliament decision to phase out palm oil from its biofuel programme by 2020, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong. He said this is evident from the increasing number of palm oil exports from countries in the region such as Singapore. "Singapore remains the highest exporting country with us. In terms of palm oil and palm oil derived products, we have increased exports by 27% between 2016 and last year. "In 2016, we exported RM2 billion in palm oil but in 2017 we exported RM2.55 billion instead," he told reporters after Singapore High Commissioner to Malaysia Vanu Gopala Menon's courtesy call to the ministry, today. Reiterating that the EU parliament's decision is not final, Mah said the future of Asean's palm oil smallholders would be adversely affected if the decision sticks. "Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand combined produce 88% of the world's palm oil supply. In Malaysia, 40% comprise of palm oil smallholders numbering 650,000. "If we add on the numbers for Indonesia and Thailand, we are talking of probably millions of livelihoods at stake," he said. He assured the EU that Malaysia will continue to push for the mandatory Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) Certification for all oil palm producers in the country by Dec 31, 2019. "We have made great progress since we announced the matter last year. From 454 mills nationwide, 59 mills have obtained MSPO certification as of January. "While from 5.7 million ha of palm oil land in the country, 633,232 ha of it have earned MSPO certification. This is great progress in the last six months," he said, adding that the government is bearing the full cost for small-holders to go through auditing. A European Parliament resolution on Jan 17 called for the phasing out of palm oil from the EU biofuel programme by 2020, claiming that it resulted in the destruction of forests. The country, he added has so far received support from leading European Union (EU) countries over its stand in opposing any discriminatory measures against palm oil. Italy is reported to be the latest EU country to speak against the resolution after Spain, France, Sweden, the United Kingdom (Conservative MPs — part of the governing party of UK Prime Minister Theresa May), Germany and the Netherlands.