M’sian delegation attends inaugural ministerial meeting of palm oil producing countries

Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong (fifth right) and Malaysian delegates together with representatives from other palm oil producing countries, including Colombia, Guatemala and Papua New Guinea in IMMPOPC, Bali, Indonesia.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3: Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong led a Malaysian delegation to and co-chaired the Inaugural Ministerial Meeting of Palm Oil Producing Countries (IMMPOPC) yesterday in Bali, Indonesia.

In a press release, Mah described the meeting as historic and the first of its kind, where major oil palm producing countries, led by Malaysia and Indonesia, officially congregated to address the unprecedented challenges that the industry faces.

Organised by the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) and chaired by Indonesia, the meeting also saw the participation of official representatives from other oil palm producing countries, including Colombia, Guatemala, Papua New Guinea, and Thailand.

The main objective of the IMMPOPC was to open up discussions and exchange views among palm oil producing countries as well as explore collaborations in areas of mutual interest, including trade policy, sustainability, smallholder productivity, and research and development with respect to palm oil.

During the meeting, Mah expressed Malaysia’s concerns regarding the growing anti-palm oil campaign in the European Union (EU) Parliament, describing attempts by Members of European Parliament in associating palm oil and rainforest deforestation as unjust and discriminatory.

In addition, the Environment Committee (ENVI) in the EU Parliament recently voted to exclude all palm oil biofuels from the EU’s renewable energy market. If the directive is adopted at the legislative level, palm oil would be excluded from the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED), even when other vegetable oils remain included.

Malaysia sees this as a clear case of EU discrimination against palm oil as the ENVI Committee clearly states that competitor oilseed crops will still be allowed to continue operating under the RED, whereas palm oil will be excluded.

In this regard, Malaysia pointed out that the discriminatory decision to set up protectionist trade barriers is unacceptable and therefore the Malaysian government will be compelled to respond appropriately, should this provision be confirmed in the final directive.

“Allegations made by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on the ENVI Committee relating to oil palm’s negative environmental impacts are incorrect and misleading as Malaysia’s forest protection is vastly superior to that of almost every EU Member State. Malaysia has one of the most advanced forest protection regimes in the world, as recognised by the United Nations and the World Bank, among others,” said the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) in the statement.

Meanwhile, Mah reiterated the importance of the oil palm industry to oil palm producing countries in terms of contributing to social well-being of the people and economic growth. There are 650,000 smallholders in Malaysia depending on the industry for their livelihoods and another 3 million people involved throughout its supply chain.

The Malaysian delegation to IMMPOPC included Datuk K Yoogesvaran (secretary-general of MPIC), Dr Ahmad Kushairi Din, (director-general of Malaysian Palm Oil Board), Dr. Kalyana Sundram (CEO of MPOC), Datuk M. Nagarajan (Chairman of MPOCC) and Mr. Harnarinder Singh (CEO of MPOCC). — Bernama