Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong (far left) looks at poster on display with Ministry secretary general Datuk K. Yogeeswaran, Malaysian Palm Oil Council chairman Datuk Lee Yeow Chor and Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) chairman Datuk Ahmad Hamzah (far right), in Kuala Lumpur, today. NST Photo by MOHD KHAIRUL HELMY MOHD DIN

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand will retaliate if the EU’s ongoing discrimination and attack on the palm oil industry becomes legislative, said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.

On April 4 last year, the EU Parliament made a resolution to introduce a single certification scheme for palm oil entering the EU market and phase out the use of palm oil based biodiesel by the end of 2020.

On Oct 23 last year, Industry, Research & Energy Committee (ITRE) endorsed the move and this was followed by support by the Parliament’s Environmental Committee (ENVI) on Nov 28.

Mah noted that global trade politics is akin to crop apartheid as the EU Parliament has erected trade barriers. This risks breach of the EU’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) commitments and likely to jeopardise the Malaysia-EU Free Trade Agreement negotiations.

“If these hate campaigns and discriminatory policy against palm oil were to go on, we can also retaliate. Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand are collectively big purchasers of EU products,” Mah told reporters today.

The minister was officiating at the Reach and Remind Friends seminar and dialogue organised by Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) here today.

Also present were Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry's secretary general Datuk K. Yogeeswaran, Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) chairman Datuk Ahmad Hamzah, MPOB director general Datuk Dr Ahmad Kushairi Din and MPOC chief executive officer Dr Kalyana Sundram and MPOC chairman Datuk Lee Yeow Chor.

For the past year, Mah said he had met and spoken with many EU ambassadors here.

“We hope the EU will do by right and stop discriminating against the global palm oil industry.”

Mah reiterated that oil palm planters across Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand deserve equal opportunities to trade and the EU should stop discriminating palm oil in favour its own rapeseed and sunflower sector.

He explained Malaysia’s 650,000 small farmers’ daily income and livelihoods are stunted by trade barriers put up by developed nations under the guise of environmental protection.

“Why is oil palm cultivation demonised when it is proven to be the most sustainable oil crop when compared to rapeseed and sunflower grown in the EU?

“Why are our oil palm planters being discriminated? What we want are equal opportunities to trade our palm oil. Is that too much to ask?” he asked.

When asked to estimate Malaysia’s 2017 palm oil exports, Mah said it is expected to surpass RM75 billion.

“This year, our planters are hopeful of a higher target of RM80 billion as production is forecast to surpass 20 million tonnes while prices firm up on strong global demand,” he added.