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CPOPC express "grave concern" over MEP stance on palm oil

In a statement from Fourth Ministerial Meeting of the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC), Ministers from Indonesia and Malaysia expressed "grave concern" over the recent European Parliament adoption of Resolution on Palm Oil and Deforestation of Rainforests. They also agreed for a CPOPC Ministerial Mission to the EU next month for further engagement and cooperation from the perspective of the producing countries with the European Parliament and European Commission.

The 4th Ministerial Meeting of the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) was held on April 11 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Meeting was attended by H.E. Darmin Nasution, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Republic of Indonesia (left) and H.E Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC), Malaysia (photo courtesy MPIC).

The 4th Ministerial Meeting of the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) was held on April 11 in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Meeting was attended by H.E. Darmin Nasution, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Republic of Indonesia (left) and H.E Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC), Malaysia (photo courtesy MPIC).

The Fourth Ministerial Meeting of the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC), an intergovernmental palm oil council set up in 2015 by the world’s two largest crude palm oil (CPO) producers and exporters Indonesia and Malaysia, was held on April 11 in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Attended by H.E. Darmin Nasution, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Republic of Indonesia and H.E Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Malaysia, a key topic on the agenda was the adoption of the Resolution on Palm Oil and Deforestation of Rainforests by the European Parliament (EP) on April 4.

Both Ministers expressed “grave concern” on the adoption of this Resolution, which claims that oil palm cultivation as one of the main drivers of deforestation and climate change and its adoption has negative repercussions on palm oil trade.

The Ministers noted that the global oil palm cultivation which currently stands at 18.12 million hectares (ha), is significantly lower in acreage compared to other vegetable oils such as soybean, rapeseed and sunflower seed which collectively stands at 180.29 million ha. In addition, the annual productivity of oil palm at 4 tonnes per ha is significantly higher compared to soybean at 0.4 tonnes per ha, rapeseed at 0.7 tonnes per ha and sunflower seed at 0.6 tonnes per ha.

Both Ministers expressed their disappointment on a number of issues in the Resolution which calls for, among others:

  • development of a single certification system for sustainable palm oil by the European Union (EU). This recommendation ignores existing certification schemes by producer countries, including Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) and Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO), which strive to achieve sustainable management of resources;
  • only palm oil is proposed for certification while other oils and fats are currently exempted. There are no similar sustainability certifications or requirements for other vegetable oils and fats despite the higher productivity and lower land usage of oil palm in comparison to rapeseed, sunflower, and soybean;
  • alleges that global palm oil production is in breach of fundamental human rights and adequate social standards. This clearly neglects the reality that palm oil is an important economic enabler in Indonesia and Malaysia, which provides employment and vital income for poor communities and contributes to the livelihood and multiplier effects benefitting approximately 16 million people in Indonesia and 4 million people in Malaysia;
  • takes note that in the 2013 European Commission Technical Report confirms that oil palm’s role in deforestation is relatively minor at 2.5 percent of gross global deforestation compared to cattle-grazing and soy cultivation;
  • palm biofuel produced from sustainable sources has been shown to be more environmentally friendly than other sources of biofuels. Phasing out of palm oil from EU biofuel programme by 2020 is “incomprehensible” since the environmental impact of any proposed replacement is “more damaging”

Contrary to UN SDG’s

Furthermore, the resolution does not reflect the stated commitment by the EU towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in addressing poverty and raising the income levels.

The Ministers point out that in this context, the palm oil industry has contributed enormously to the rural development of both countries having benefited over 2 million smallholders in Indonesia and 600 000 smallholders in Malaysia.

Any measure aimed at “restricting the development” of the palm oil industry does not reflect the commitment by the global community towards ensuring sustainable development. In addition, both countries have strong commitments in the global efforts to tackle climate change, among others, through the ratification of the Paris Agreement.

Seek cooperation with EU

Both countries will work together with other palm oil producing countries in addressing this issue with the EU. This is aimed at ensuring that whatever measures adopted by EU factors in the approach by Indonesia and Malaysia towards ensuring sustainable palm oil, among others, through ISPO and MSPO.

– It is the view of CPOPC members that environmental issues should not be used as a tool for discrimination and a disguised restriction to trade. The proposed measures under the Resolution could go against international obligations and adversely affect both exporting and importing countries. Such measures run counter to the general principles of open, rules-based, as well as free and fair international trade, the Ministers stated.

In this context, both Ministers agreed for a CPOPC Ministerial Mission in May 2017 to the EU for further engagement and cooperation from the perspective of the producing countries with the European Parliament and European Commission.

About CPOPC

Indonesia and Malaysia, together, account for about 85 percent of the world’s total palm oil supply. Other palm oil producing countries include Thailand, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Uganda, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Brazil, and Colombia.

Based in Jakarta, Indonesia, the Council of Palm Oil Producer Countries (CPOPC), aims to control the global CPO supply, stabilize palm oil prices, promote sustainable practices in the palm oil industry, and enhance the welfare of oil palm smallholders.

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