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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24: Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong received a courtesy call from the France Ambassador, H.E. Frédéric Laplanche recently.
During the courtesy call, Mah once again lauded the France National Assembly for successfully defeating the discriminatory ‘Nutella Tax’ Bill last year, for a second time following a similar situation in 2015. The bill proposed to increase import tax by an extra 300 Euro per tonne on palm oil, premised on the ground that palm oil production contributes towards deforestation and global warming.
In April 2017, the European Parliament called for the EU to phase out the use of vegetable oils in biodiesel that is produced unsustainably, through the EU Parliament Resolution: Palm Oil and Deforestation of Rainforest. Mah had voiced out his concern on this resolution and also France’s plan to restrict the use of palm oil in biofuels as stated by the French Environment Minister last July.
According to Mah, these policies are unfair and can be considered as non-tariff barriers to Malaysia’s agricommodity exports to European countries. The minister urged France not to follow the EU Resolution nor Norway’s move to exclude palm oil biodiesel especially under the EU Renewable Energy Directives (RED).
In order to correct the unfair accusations and further present the facts and truths regarding the Malaysian palm oil industry, a delegation led by six Malaysian Members of Parliament were employed on a special mission to Europe from Oct 14 to 21, to meet up and engage with a number of Members of European Parliament (MEPs) and Directorale-General (DGs) under the European Commission, as well as several NGOs.
On this note, Mah once again stressed that the Malaysian government is committed towards ensuring sustainability in the palm oil industry, particularly through the announcement in February 2017 to make it mandatory to implement the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) Certification Scheme throughout the whole palm oil value chain by the end of 2019.
Malaysia and France share a positive trade bond in agricommodity. In 2016, Malaysia’s export of agricommodity and agricommodity based-products to France amounted to RM658 million.
For the period of January-July 2017, exports of agricommodities was valued at RM514.2 million, an increase of 33 per cent compared to RM386.7 million during the same period last year. The exports were largely rubber products valued at RM283.66 million, followed by timber and timber products valued at RM99.66 million and palm oil and palm based products at RM92.14 million.
Malaysia is also looking forward to further increasing trade in agricommodities between the two countries. — Bernama