Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad says the move would be vital to combat discriminatory trade practices of violating international laws. NST pix by Mohamad Shahril Badri Saali.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia and other countries under the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) will seek intervention from the World Trade Organisation to safeguard the palm oil sector.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the move would be vital to combat discriminatory trade practices of violating international laws.

“Malaysia and other palm oil producing nations are stepping up efforts among global stakeholders to disseminate accurate information about sustainable oil palm plantations and to counter false allegations concerning palm oil with credible facts,” he said in his keynote address at the Malaysian Palm Oil Board’s (MPOB) International Palm Oil Congress and Exhibition (PIPOC) 2019 here today.

Dr Mahathir said Malaysia must not keep silent nor hesitate to take counter measures if certain importing countries choose to impose discriminatory trade barriers against palm oil producing countries.

“Despite all the sustainable efforts undertaken by the palm oil industry, at the international front, the industry is continuously linked to deforestation and loss of biodiversity,” he added.

He said the negative publicity campaigns against palm oil was mainly due to reasons intertwined with political and economic agenda in attacking the palm oil industry by anti-palm oil campaigners and Western non-governmental organisations.

Primary Industry Minister Teresa Kok said the ministry will present a ‘cabinet paper’ to the cabinet next month for the decision on whether to file a discriminatory complaint to WTO.

“MPI will going to have a cabinet paper which is now in our circulation among our ministry. It will be presented to the cabinet for decision on the case to WTO,” she said.

However, she said the ministry would need to get feedbacks from relevant ministries and attorney general’s chamber then only the paper will be cited and deliberated in the cabinet meeting.

“We are already circulating the paper and we hope by next month, we will discuss about the case to WTO in cabinet meeting, then only we know we can file the case against the delegated act of European Union (EU),” she said.

Kok said some of the EU commissioners have not been appointed and it is still unsure whether the United Kingdom will be in the EU or not as the country is going through the Brexit post in December.

“Let them settle down first then only we can take the next cause of action,” she said.

She said Indonesia will file the suit to WTO separately.

Meanwhile, she said the ministry is committed to plant one million forest tree species within the next few years particularly in degraded forest land in Sabah as well as protecting the wildlife population sponsored primarily by the palm oil industry players.

“Next year, the government is looking into setting up a specific fund for green initiatives especially for tree planting and wildlife conservation where a cess of RM1 will be collected under cess for this purpose.

“We are also very concern on protecting our wildlife where through the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, my Ministry has donated RM1.5 million to boost the orang utan and elephant conservation efforts to the Sabah Wildlife Department. This is to conduct a new population survey, especially on orang utan and Pygmy elephants in the state,” she said.

Currently for every metric tonne, MPOB is collecting RM13 cess from the oil palm players and the additional RM1 collection will be for wildlife and green initiatives for forestry replanting.

“This is to show to the world that the oil palm industry in Malaysia is concern about environment and wildlife conservation and we are really serious and working towards that direction,” she said.