BRUSSELS, Oct 19 — The Malaysian oil palm industry is one of the most highly regulated and has surpassed the sustainable development goals (SDG) benchmark, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
In a speech at the second plenary session of the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit here Friday, she said Malaysia took note of the concerns raised by certain quarters on the effects of palm oil.
“Let me now share Malaysia’s perspective on this matter. The Malaysian oil palm industry is one of the most highly regulated, and by end-2019, it will be mandatory for all Malaysian palm oil to be certified sustainable through the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) Certification Scheme.
“We note the concerns of the European Union (EU), but let us state the facts. Malaysia has surpassed its pledge at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit to preserve at least 50 per cent of forest cover. Today, we have 55.3 per cent of forest cover on our land,” she added.
Dr Wan Azizah said Malaysia used only a 2.1 per cent share of the total planted area of oil seeds globally, and had a 34 per cent share of the world’s total production of major oil seeds.
“Our palm oil yield is five to eight times higher than any other oil seed, and we are continuously working to enhance productivity, conforming to standards that stop any more damage to the forests.
“There will be no new oil palm cultivations encroaching into permanent forest reserves,” she said.
Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, said Malaysia had managed to elevate the social status and economic well-being of thousands of families through the cultivation of oil palm.
“There are 650,000 smallholders and approximately three million people whose livelihood depends on palm oil production in Malaysia.
“A potential boycott could deprive these people of jobs and a decent life, including women’s access to resources within the industry.
“Therefore, Malaysia is resolute in our continued engagement with the EU to ensure that our shared commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals produce win-win situations for all,” she added.
Malaysian Ambassador to Belgium and Head of the Malaysian Mission to the EU Datuk Hasnudin Hamzah said Malaysian exports to the EU increased by 19.4 per cent to RM95.29 billion (US$22.19 billion) in 2017 as compared to 2016.
Palm oil and palm-based products comprised 7.4 per cent of 2017’s share of total exports.
Other major exports last year were electrical and electronic products which constituted 50.2 per cent share of 2017’s total exports, optical and scientific equipment (6.4 per cent), chemicals and chemical products (5.5 per cent) and rubber products (5.4 per cent).
Total trade with the EU grew by 17.5 per cent to RM175.08 billion (US$40.81 billion) in 2017 versus 2016 said Hasnudin, citing the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) data.
ASEM-member nations represent 60 per cent of the world’s population, contribute 55 per cent of global trade, 65 per cent of the global gross domestic product and 75 per cent of global tourism. — Bernama