Malaysia, In­done­sia to lead de­fence against EU re­stric­tions

New Straits Times - - Business -

MANILA: Malaysia and In­done­sia, the world’s top palm oil pro­duc­ers, will lead Asean’s de­fence against the Euro­pean Union’s (EU) move to re­strict im­ports of the com­mod­ity over claims that the in­dus­try is caus­ing de­for­esta­tion.

Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak said this lat­est threat would affect the liveli­hood of close to three mil­lion small­hold­ers in the two coun­tries (600,000 in Malaysia and 2.4 mil­lion in In­done­sia).

“In­done­sian Pres­i­dent Jokowi (Joko Wi­dodo) gave his strong sup­port to a pro­posal that Malaysia and In­done­sia ad­dress this new threat and try to in­flu­ence the EU not to en­force this rul­ing,” he told the Malaysian me­dia be­fore re­turn­ing home af­ter at­tend­ing the 30th Asean Lead­ers’ Sum­mit, here.

The res­o­lu­tion passed by the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment would elim­i­nate the use of palm methyl es­ter in bio­fu­els when en­forced in 2020.

Na­jib said the 10mem­ber Asean could wield more in­flu­ence when it spoke with one voice on such is­sues.

“Asean’s suc­cess thus far has been due to the unity and cen­tral­ity of Asean. When we are a co­he­sive as­so­ci­a­tion and speak with a sin­gle voice on any is­sue, our in­flu­ence grows, and we find that out­side pow­ers want to deal with Asean and ex­pand ties with us,” he said.

Min­is­ter in the Prime Min­is­ter’s De­part­ment Datuk Seri Ab­dul Rah­man Dahlan said a united Asean could present a strong po­si­tion in response to EU’s un­fair move.

“If the EU places such con­di­tions and bans our prod­ucts, Asean can also show its strength and re­tal­i­ate.

“From my ob­ser­va­tion, if this is not re­solved, it can es­ca­late to a stronger re­ac­tion from Asean that can im­pact EU in­ter­ests in the re­gion.

“We don’t want to reach that point,” he said.

Na­jib said co­op­er­a­tion among Asean mem­bers was also re­spon­si­ble for the re­gion’s strong growth, with a com­bined eco­nomic size of US$2.6 tril­lion (RM11.3 tril­lion) cur­rently. It is ex­pected to grow to US$9.2 tril­lion by 2050.

How­ever, a ma­jor chal­lenge is in re­duc­ing non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers and non-tar­iff mea­sures, which have in­creased 365 per cent from 1,634 to 5,975 in re­cent years.

“Strong com­mit­ment is needed to re­duce costs and sim­plify pro­ce­dures so that trade can flow more freely.

“Ev­ery­one is guilty. We’ve gone down this route (of im­pos­ing more bar­ri­ers) as a con­se­quence of what oth­ers have done.

“We have to dis­cuss, and every­body has to re­spond pos­i­tively. The Asean sec­re­tariat and eco­nomic min­is­ters will push for it,” added Na­jib.

On the 12th Brunei-In­done­si­aMalaysia-Philip­pines East Asia Growth Area Sum­mit, Na­jib said some of the projects Malaysia would un­der­take were the PanBor­neo High­way, Teluk Sepang­gar Port and Mukah Air­port ex­pan­sion, and re­new­able en­ergy in­vest­ments.

The 12th In­done­sia-Malaysi­aThai­land Growth Tri­an­gle (IMTGT) Sum­mit, mean­while, ap­proved the IMT-GT Vi­sion 2026 and IMT-GT Im­ple­men­ta­tion Blueprint 2017-2021.

The main fea­ture of both plans in­volve in­fra­struc­ture projects worth US$47 bil­lion.

In Malaysia, these include the Kuala Lumpur-Sin­ga­pore highspeed rail project, East Coast Rail Link, the Chup­ing Val­ley In­dus­trial Area and Perlis In­land Port. Lokman Man­sor

Asean’s suc­cess thus far has been due to the unity and cen­tral­ity of Asean.

Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak

Prime Min­is­ter

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.