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There is no point to tit-for-tat over the EU’s plan to ban palm biodiesel, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking. NSTP photo by HAFIZ SOHAIMI

KUALA LUMPUR: There is no point to tit-for-tat over Norway’s plan to ban palm biodiesel, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking.

Leiking, however, believes that Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok would advise the Cabinet on counter-measures to safeguard the country’s palm oil interests.

Kok, in a statement yesterday, said the ministry had regretted the Norwegian Parliament’s vote that would make it the first country in the world to ban palm biofuels.

Kok said Norway’s plan to ban palm biodiesel would hurt bilateral trade relations and would be a major obstacle towards a successful conclusion of the Malaysia and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) talks.

EFTA member countries are Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland.

“If we go (tit-for-tat), we are as bad as they (lobbyists) are. We (Malaysians) are open for trade with business-friendly environment, a nation that cares for its environment and the people,” Leiking said after a mock cheque presentation ceremony for Tabung Harapan here today.

The Branding Association of Malaysia (BAM) and Malaysia Entrepreneurs’ Development Association (PUMM) have collectively involved in contributing a total of RM1 million to 100 companies.

Leiking said the ministry would not condemn Norway for its decision but rather wanted the country to understand Malaysia.

“We also want to understand Norway’s act of condemning Malaysia’s palm oil. The negotiation of EFTA is still ongoing. At the same time, we have also approached other EFTA members, namely; Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland bilaterally,” he added.

Leiking expressed hope Norway’s parliament decision to phase out the usage of palm biodiesel would not come at play.

“We hope Norway will reverse its decision and go back to agree with what we have already agreed upon. So, until the EFTA talks are finalised, then we will know the outcome,” he said.

Leiking is concerned that some countries may be mislead by lobbyists, who have vested interests, about the truth of Malaysia’s sustainably produced palm oil.

“They (lobbyists) throw false allegations about wanton deforestation throughout Malaysia. We acknowledged there were some parties who cut trees illegally without the government’s permission.

“But we have caught them and some ran away. State governments have also regularly enforced environmental protection measures,” he said.

“Some parties believe false allegations that we cut virgin forest to set up oil palm estates. They are totally mislead by lobbyists who have ulterior motives to promote their own vegetable oils such as rapeseed and sunflower. These lobbyist are bent on smearing the reputation of the palm oil industry, a significant export earner for Malaysia,” he said.

Leiking said Norway’s plan to ban palm biodiesel would not affect the EFTA as Malaysia was still negotiating with the other three members.

“We will aggressively campaign for the truth about palm oil nutrition and oil palm planting. We want to meet them (face-to-face) and explain the real situation of how we sustainably produce palm oil,” he said.

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