The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) represents the interests of the Malaysian palm oil producers, exporters, end users and consumers worldwide. MPOC looks with interest and cooperative spirit to the EU’s legislative initiative on “Minimising the risk of deforestation and forest degradation associated with products placed on the EU market”, hoping that the consultative process ahead will ensure that the legislative and regulatory outcomes be balanced, not unilateral, based on measurable science and data, non-discriminatory, and in line with the applicable WTO rules.
Malaysia has long recognised and adhered to the preservation of its forests and of ensuring the sustainable cultivation of oil palm and production of palm oil. Today, the forested area in Malaysia amounts to around 53% of the land area. In the EU, despite significant reforestation efforts, forest area covered only around 39.5% in 2018. These trends are important to highlight Malaysia’s commitment is outstanding if projected against the steady decline of the overall global forested area. This data and these differences must be recognised and factored in when policies are defined and actions taken. Simple recipes and generalisations do not work.
MPOC would also like to highlight Malaysia’s significant efforts related to ensuring the sustainability of its industries, including mandatory certification for oil palm cultivators and palm oil producers to be certified under the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) standard which intends to ensure responsible and sustainable production, as well as transparency and traceability along the palm oil value chain. Again, these actions are real, measurable and adopted by Malaysia to protect what is not only a precious resource for humanity, but foremost Malaysia’s most important asset and comparative advantage: its forests and unique ecosystem.
MPOC recognizes the ambitious objectives of the European Green Deal and the priorities identified by the European Commission in the “EU Communication on Stepping up EU Action to Protect and Restore the World’s Forests”. Of those priorities, MPOC emphasises the importance that work be conducted:
1. In partnership with producer countries to reduce pressures on forests,
2.The EU strengthens international cooperation to halt deforestation and forest degradation, and encourage forest restoration and that,
- In adopting and advancing its initiatives, actions and policies on forestry, the EU improve “the availability and quality of information on forests and commodity supply chains, the access to that information, and support research and innovation”.
MPOC however believes that this has not always been the case when EU policies and measures particularly, the EU’s Directive (EU) 2018/2001 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources) were invoked. MPOC looks forward to a constant, transparent, science-based, and frank dialogue with the EU on such matters.
MPOC further reiterates that no unilateral approach and actions should be taken, but the EU should cooperatively and genuinely work in partnership with countries like Malaysia, in the many diplomatic, commercial and technical fora available, in order to define and adopt bilateral, plurilateral or multilateral standards and solutions for sustainable forestry and agricultural production compliance.
Last but not least, MPOC remains hopeful that the EU policies and measures eventually adopted, in order to minimise the risk of deforestation and forest degradation associated with products placed on the EU market, be consistent with WTO rules, particularly those on non-product related process and production methods (PPMs), and not be biased or discriminatory (de facto, if not de jure) vis-à-vis third countries and ‘like products’ that compete with the ones produced in the EU.