Shin­ing the spot­light on palm oil

PM: Malaysia and In­done­sia will consider sanc­tions against the EU

The Star Malaysia - - Nation - BRIAN MARTIN at the 31st Asean Sum­mit in Manila news­desk@thes­

MANILA: Malaysia and In­done­sia will consider im­pos­ing trade sanc­tions against the European Union (EU) if it does not re­scind what the two coun­tries consider an “un­fair res­o­lu­tion” against the palm oil in­dus­try, says Datuk Seri Na­jib Tun Razak.

“We consider the EU par­lia­ment’s re­cent res­o­lu­tion dis­crim­i­na­tory against both our coun­tries and could af­fect the liveli­hoods of 600,000 oil palm small­hold­ers in Malaysia and 17.5 mil­lion small­hold­ers in In­done­sia,” the Prime Min­is­ter added.

Na­jib said he voiced out in the strong­est pos­si­ble terms Malaysia’s po­si­tion on the palm oil is­sue dur­ing the Asean-EU Sum­mit held here.

“The pres­i­dent of the EU Coun­cil Don­ald Tusk ad­mit­ted that de­for­esta­tion (the ra­tio­nale be­hind the res­o­lu­tion) was a com­plex is­sue and promised to look into the mat­ter per­son­ally,” he added.

Malaysia and In­done­sia out­put 85% of the world’s palm oil pro­duc­tion and the in­dus­try con­trib­utes sig­nif­i­cantly to the economies of both coun­tries.

Mean­while, Na­jib hailed the 31st Asean Sum­mit as his­toric and a re­sound­ing suc­cess for its mem­ber coun­tries.

“The fact that all the top lead­ers from around the world were present as di­a­logue part­ners shows how im­por­tant Asean has be­come in its 50th year.

“Lead­ers like US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau in­sisted on at­tend­ing be­cause it is an ac­knowl­edge­ment of the strate­gic im­por­tance of Asean to their coun­tries,” he added.

Na­jib, who at­tended the clos­ing cer­e­mony of the sum­mit last night, said a num­ber of key agree­ments had been signed and im­por­tant is­sues had been re­solved here.

Asean signed a land­mark Free Trade Agree­ment (FTA) with Hong Kong, an Asean Con­sen­sus on the Pro­tec­tion and Pro­mo­tion of the Rights of Mi­grant Work­ers and agreed in prin­ci­ple to the Trans Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP) 11, which should be inked in 2018.

“As for the Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship (RCEP), we have ev­ery con­fi­dence that the agree­ment will be signed in November 2018 at the 32nd Asean Sum­mit in Sin­ga­pore,” Na­jib said, re­fer­ring to the cre­ation of the world’s largest trad­ing bloc.

The Prime Min­is­ter also told re­porters that he was proud that Malaysia’s stand against the atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted against the Ro­hingya in Myan­mar has fi­nally borne fruit.

“I had a dis­cus­sion with the US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son, who is due to visit Myan­mar soon, and he told me that the United States was very con­cerned,” he said, adding that other coun­tries had also voiced out their sup­port for the Ro­hingya.

On the South China Sea is­sue, Na­jib said China had re­acted pos­i­tively to calls from Asean na­tions to de­mil­i­tarise the area.

“The most pos­i­tive out­come from this sum­mit was our (the lead­ers) an­nounce­ment of the start of ne­go­ti­a­tions on the Code of Con­duct in the South China Sea. This will def­i­nitely defuse ten­sions in the area,” he added.

But, he said the gravest con­cern for most of the Asean lead­ers at the sum­mit was the es­ca­la­tion of ten­sions in the Korean penin­sula.

“This is cur­rently the most danger­ous threat fac­ing the world and we is­sued a state­ment urg­ing North Korea to end its nu­clear and bal­lis­tic pro­gramme and return to the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble to en­sure peace and sta­bil­ity in the re­gion,” Na­jib said.

— Ber­nama

Meet­ing of minds: Na­jib shar­ing a light mo­ment with In­done­sian Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo as (from left) Rus­sian Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev, Sul­tan of Brunei Sul­tan Has­sanal Bolkiah and Thai Prime Min­is­ter Prayuth Chan- O-Cha look on.

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