PETALING JAYA: Malaysia has never stated its intention to back off from filing a World Trade Organisation (WTO) lawsuit against the European Union’s (EU) restrictions on palm oil-based biofuel, says Teresa Kok.
The Primary Industries Minister said this in response to a report by Reuters which claimed that Malaysia would not proceed with its plans to file a complaint against the EU.
“The Reuters report deliberately misquoted me saying that Malaysia no longer plans to file the WTO suit against EU restriction on palm oil.
“This was also not the thrust of my intention when the Reuters journalist interviewed me in Brussels on Feb 13.
“In my interview, I had emphasised clearly that my current mission to meet with European leaders was to explain the efforts made by the Malaysian Government and palm oil industry to produce sustainable palm oil, and various green conservation projects initiated by the industry, ” said Kok in a press statement on Friday (Feb 14).
In fact, she said, a legal team at the highest level was examining with a fine tooth comb a potential response that would make Malaysia’s petition as watertight as possible.
Malaysia had always agreed to intervene as a co-complainant and join Indonesia and other palm oil producers at the opportune juncture at the WTO proceedings, said Kok.
Malaysia is currently acting as an observer at the proceedings of the Indonesian suit against the EU at the WTO.
Kok said when Malaysia’s legal experts, who would also be sitting in at the WTO hearing felt ready, the government “will be prepared to mount our own independent complaint”.
“Indeed, this was the very essence of my statement to the Reuters journalist, who unfortunately appears to have twisted my statements on this matter of supreme importance.
“For now, we will still negotiate these issues with the EU through bilateral meetings and negotiations, ” she said.
Last year, the EU, under its Delegated Regulation Supplementing Directive 2018/2001 of the European Union Renewable Energy Directive II (Delegated Act), classified palm oil as unsustainable.
Kok added that Malaysia continued to view the Delegated Act as a discredit to the Malaysian palm oil industry’s commitment towards mandatory sustainability.
She said the Act created additional trade barriers and impeded Malaysia’s sustainability efforts throughout the palm oil supply chain.
Kok added that she had sought the endorsement of EU leaders on the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification and to accept MSPO certified palm oil into Europe.
“This is in line with the announcement of seven EU countries in the Amsterdam Declaration on Fully Sustainable Palm Oil by 2020,” she said.
Kok added that in her meeting with EU Commissioner for Energy, Kadri Simson and her advisors in Brussels, she had conveyed Malaysia’s concern over the Delegated Act passed by European Parliament that discriminated against the usage of palm oil in biofuel.
She said she further sought a review of the Delegated Act by way of an expert joint working group.
“Simson concurred with Malaysia’s views on activating expert consultation between EU and palm oil producers,” she said, adding that Malaysia would raise its objections at the Joint Working Group of EU and Palm Oil Producing Countries to review the Act.
She said the review process was planned to take place soon and should be completed by June 2021.