Trade war threatened over MEP vote 

Trade war threatened over MEP vote 

The Malaysian Palm Oil Association (MPOA) has urged its government to halt trade deals with the European Union until MEPs’ proposed ban on palm oil imports is axed.

Last month parliamentarians passed a resolution requiring only sustainably produced palm oil to be imported to the EU after 2020.

It will still need to approved by the European Commission and European Council, representing the 28 members. This complex process has been largely ignored by the Malaysian debate of the “ban”.

MEPs also voted to approve a renewable energy law that called for zero emissions from biofuels and bio-liquids produced from palm oil after January 2021.

Association CEO Nageeb Wahab said the European Parliament’s proposed “discriminative action” against palm oil would affect in excess of 3 million farmers across developing nations.

More than 85 per cent of the world’s palm oil comes from Indonesia and Malaysia, where it makes up an US$20.5-billion export industry.

Palm oil is used in around 40 to 50 per cent of foods and other household products sold in the west.

According to the WWF, every hour an area of rainforest the size of 300 football fields is cleared for the growing of palm oil.

Indonesia is now the world’s third-highest greenhouse gas emitter, after the US and China, because cleared vegetation is often burned.

One in three of all Indonesian mammal species are now estimated to be critically endangered as a result of deforestation, largely for palm-oil production.

The Sumatran rhino, sun bear, pygmy elephant, proboscis monkey, clouded leopard, Sumatran tiger and orangutan (pictured) are all threatened or endangered. An estimated 1,000 of the gentle “man of the forest” are thought to have died each year as a result of palm-oil production in the last 20 years, with some of the giant apes found buried alive.

But Malaysian plantation and commodities minister Mah Siew Keong called the proposed palm-oil ban “crop apartheid” and a “black day for free trade”.

Nageeb said the MPOA fully backed the Malaysian move to build a “Friends of Palm Oil” alliance with eight other palm-oil producing countries to take on the EU.

“The initiative calls for an urgent need to clear many misconceptions by the EU on palm oil where the EU have chosen to ignore many factual information [sic] such as Malaysia’s landmass that is 57 per cent covered with forest,” the lobbyist added.

“The ban would threaten the livelihoods of 650,000 smallholders and over 3.2 million Malaysians who rely on the palm-oil industry,” Nageeb claimed. “The smallholders account for almost 40 per cent of the total planted area in the country.”

 

The endangered orangutan. Picture credit: Flickr

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