New Straits Times
Mah: Vital to address palm oil ban in FTA talks
TELUK INTAN: Malaysia’s free trade agreement talks with the European Union (EU) must address trade barriers that discriminate palm oil because this is a priority, said Plantation Industry and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.
“The EU is a very important trading partner to Malaysia and I thank International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed for taking up this issue of barriers against palm oil trade in negotiating a free trade agreement with the EU.”
The EU-Malaysia free trade agreement negotiation was initiated in 2010 and it was set aside in 2012. After a lull of five years, it resumed discussion late last year.
“Malaysia can only sign a free trade agreement with the EU if the deal is mutually beneficial. As long as the EU continues to discriminate against palm oil, it violates the essence of free trade,” said Mah.
The European Parliament had, two months ago, voted in favour of a draft law on renewable energy that called for the use of palm oil in biofuels to be banned from 2021.
Malaysia and Indonesia will be hard hit as they are the world’s top exporters of palm oil.
Mustapa raised the issue when he met with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem on the sidelines of an Association of Southeast Asian Nations trade ministers’ meeting in Singapore.
Malmstroem said that she had updated Asean ministers of the legislative proposals, and the ban on palm oil was not the final outcome of the EU.
Malaysia and Indonesia’s five million oil palm planters supply around 60 million tonnes of palm oil, or 86 per cent of global output.
The EU is the world’s secondlargest palm oil customer buying some RM10 billion per year from Malaysia.