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KUALA LUMPUR: Several European countries have given their commitment to oppose the discrimination against the use of palm oil, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.

The countries were the Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom, France, Sweeden and Italy, said Mah who was in Europe for a working visit last week.

"We can count on their support when the European Parliament and Council of Ministers meet to decide on the matter.

"Of course there are few other countries that we need to meet again to give them more information, but most of them have agreed that it is not fair," he told reporters after Gerakan's Chinese New Year open house held at its headquarters here.

On January 17, 2018 the European Parliament had voted to phase out palm biodiesel from the EU energy mix after 2020.

It has also voted in favour of an amendment to a draft law on renewable energy that calls for reducing to zero the contribution from biofuels and bioliquids produced from palm oil as of January 2021.

Declaring his working visit as a good trip, Mah said Malaysia has called for equal treatment for its palm oil.

"Most of them still think that palm oil is all about big companies and plantations.

"However, I told them that 40 percent of oil palm in Malaysia are planted by smallholders and there are 650,000 of them.

"Such ban will destroy the livelihood of these smallholders."

Mah said he had conveyed that palm oil in Malaysia is highly regulated in accordance to the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) standards and that the country cares for the environment and look after the forest and wildlife.

Mah said he will be going to Europe again in April for more meetings.

" It is very important as this will affect the palm oil industry.

"Furthermore, we will work together with Indonesia and in fact, next week both countries will have senior officers meeting here, to discuss on how to work together on the matter.

"I have discussed with Thailand, third biggest producer of palm oil, and Columbia and all have agreed to work together to oppose the ban of palm oil."

He said Malaysia exported RM67.9 billion and RM78 billion in palm oil and oil palm-based products in 2016 and 2017 respectively.

"This year we hope to exceed RM80 billion despite all the challenges.

"Palm oil is important for our country thus this fight must go on.

"As I conveyed to the European ministers and counterparts, they have to be fair to us.

"If they discriminate against us then we have to retaliate, because we also buy a lot of their products. I am not making threat but we have to face the reality."

(File pix) The countries were the Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom, France, Sweeden and Italy, said Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong who was in Europe for a working visit last week. (NSTP/SUPIAN AHMAD)
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