Shining the spotlight on palm oil
PM: Malaysia and Indonesia will consider sanctions against the EU
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.
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.