Govt opposes EU Act classifying palm oil as ‘high risk’

17 Mar 2019 / 10:29 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government strongly opposes the European Commission’s Delegated Act which classifies palm oil as “high risk”, said Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (pix).

In a statement yesterday, he said the drafting and feedback process behind the act was flawed from the start and the European Union’s (EU) claim that it was based on the relative risk of biofuels was disingenuous.

“In reality, the Delegated Act is a protectionist instrument to restrict palm oil in the European market. It is mind-boggling that the less competitive and less efficient oilseeds such as rapeseed, sunflower oil, canola and soybean are classified as ‘low risk’,” he added.

Saifuddin said the Malaysian government does not accept that the Delegated Act was justified based on scientific or environmental grounds.

“No convincing explanation or data have been provided to justify the discrimination against Malaysian palm oil. The government, therefore, views the EU Delegated Act, not as environmental regulation, but a calculated political act to remove Malaysia’s palm oil exports from the EU marketplace.

“Such an aggressive trade barrier targeted at Malaysia’s national interests and our 650,000 smallholders cannot pass without a strong response,” he added.

Saifuddin said should the act be passed, Malaysia would look to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) for recourse.

“The hard-hitting action by the EU would undermine our nations’ cooperation and mutual friendship. Therefore, this matter should be treated in a fair and non-discriminatory manner with equal treatment and access for Malaysian palm oil alongside with other oilseed feedstock,” he said.

Describing the situation as highly regrettable for Malaysian palm oil producers and for European exporters, he noted that it was also avoidable.

Saifuddin said Malaysia had not displayed any aggression towards Europe that would provoke such a direct and targeted threat to the country’s economic interest.

“Malaysia has consistently provided evidence on the sustainability of palm oil, including the country-wide Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil certification standard.

“It is extremely disappointing that the EU, a trusted and valued friend and ally, would undermine Malaysia’s national interests in this manner, as the EU had been a consistent supporter of the international trading system, based on WTO’s rules.

“This discriminatory Delegated Act undermines the EU’s credibility as a proponent of the WTO-led rules-based system,” he added.

He said the government urged friends and counterparts in European capitals and in the council to reject the act and preserve and strengthen the strong economic and trading relationship between Europe and Asean. — Bernama

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