Malaysia willing to collaborate with EU over palm oil issue

Palm oil fruits are seen placed on a wheelbarrow at a palm oil farm in Klang February 19, 2014. — Reuters pic
Palm oil fruits are seen placed on a wheelbarrow at a palm oil farm in Klang February 19, 2014. — Reuters pic

PUTRAJAYA, July 25 — Malaysia is open and willing to collaborate with European countries in creating greater consumer awareness on sustainable palm oil production and the health benefits of palm oil, said Primary Industries Deputy Minister Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin. 

He said better cooperation between Malaysia and the European Union (EU) over the issue of palm oil production might bring greater benefits in the long-term for all parties involved.

“Malaysia believes the best solution is to work together to promote inclusive growth,” he said in a statement today, referring to recent remarks by France Ambassador in Malaysia, Frederic Laplanche, that public opinion regarding palm oil in the EU was still negative due to concerns on climate change, environmental protection and biodiversity conservation.

In an interview with Bernama last week, Laplanche suggested that both Malaysia and the EU enhance cooperation by seeking solutions in light of public perception and the negative sentiments surrounding palm oil due to deforestation issues.

Shamsul Iskandar said Malaysia would like to request Laplanche and the entire EU diplomatic community in Malaysia to continue to work with the Primary Industries Ministry to better inform the detractors of the palm oil industry.

He added that Malaysia had always been mindful of the campaigns consistently aimed to discredit oil palm cultivation through associations with deforestation, loss of biodiversity and destruction of critical habitat for endangered species.

Malaysia has also applied best practices, including environmental impact assessments, in establishing and operating oil palm plantations and embraced the concept of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals of 2030 that balances social and economic progress with the environment.

“However, these actions still appear to be inadequate in the eyes of the EU consumers and legislators, who are constantly fed streams of anti-palm oil messages without verification of the underlying facts,” he added. — Bernama