Minister says Dr M will write to Norway, France on palm oil ban

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok speaks to reporters at The Majestic Hotel, Kuala Lumpur January 8, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok speaks to reporters at The Majestic Hotel, Kuala Lumpur January 8, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will be in charge of writing a letter to his Norwegian counterpart Erna Solberg and French President Emmanuel Macron on their recent ban against Malaysian palm oil products.

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said the decision was made after a Cabinet discussion, amid fears that other European countries may follow suit.

“We are concerned their decision to ban our palm oil products will affect bilateral relations between Malaysia and the EU,” she said at a Malaysian Palm Oil Council seminar here today.

Kok said she is uncertain what Dr Mahathir will say in his letter, but added that the letter will be made public once complete.

She also said the Primary Industries Ministry will chair a meeting this Thursday with the International Trade and Industry Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, and the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry to discuss how the government will deal with the ban.

“Seeing as palm oil is Malaysia’s fifth major export, the ban is a serious matter indeed.

“In particular, we are worried about how this will affect smallholder farmers, and hope the European nations will also take this into account,” she said.

Kok will be heading to Indonesia next month for the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries summit, where she hopes its members will come to an agreement on dealing with the ban.

“If necessary we will also discuss taking a stance against the ban by Norway and France, since the issue can potentially affect other palm oil-producing nations as well,” Kok said.

Last December 19, France’s National Assembly voted to end tax incentives for palm oil biodiesel by 2020, followed later that month by Norway’s parliament’s plan to ban biofuels with palm oil by 2020.