PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia, as a palm oil producer, strongly opposes a proposed European Union (EU) Parliament resolution on the commodity, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Mah Siew Keong on Wednesday (Mar 15).
He said the resolution, among others, stresses the need for a single certification that would guarantee only sustainably produced palm oil enters the EU market.
The resolution, scheduled to be tabled in April, also includes the requirement for food labelling, indicating palm oil sustainably produced through packaging or information accessible through technological features.
Mah said Malaysia strongly opposed the resolution, which linked the industry to deforestation, as it would have a negative repercussion on palm oil imports into the EU and a devastating impact on the economy of producer nations.
He said the EU is currently the largest market for Malaysian palm oil and palm oil-based products, with exports in 2016 valued at around RM10 billion (US$2.25 billion).
"Such a resolution is perceived as a trade impediment and may have a significant negative effect on Malaysia's exports," Mah told a news conference on Wednesday.
He said the mandatory labelling requirement targeted specifically imported palm oil products and could also be considered as a significant departure from World Trade Organisation (WTO) commitments.
He said the ministry would continue to engage the relevant stakeholders in the EU.
This is apart from initiatives that had been undertaken to engage the members of the European Parliament through familiarisation visits to palm oil plantations to educate them on the sustainable practices of the Malaysian palm oil industry.
According to Mah, Malaysia will also collaborate with Indonesia under the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) to jointly highlight the environmental and sustainable development of the palm oil industry, its contribution to the economy and poverty eradication, as well as nutritional attributes.
"The palm oil industry in Malaysia is one of the most well-regulated industries globally. In being a major producer and exporter of palm oil products globally, Malaysia would like to strongly reiterate that the palm industry subscribes to sustainable practices," he said.
Emphasising Malaysia's seriousness towards ensuring palm oil is produced sustainably, Mah said the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil Certification Scheme (MSPO) was implemented from 2015, would be made mandatory by December 2019.
Last year, the total export of palm oil and palm-based products by Malaysia increased seven per cent to RM67.6 billion compared to RM63.2 billion in 2015.
Mah expressed confidence that it would exceed RM70 billion this year, following an impressive increase of 23.3 per cent to RM5.95 billion in January this year, compared to RM4.84 billion in the same period of last year.