Malaysia, Indonesia to lead defence against EU restrictions
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