PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia is pulling all stops to increase the environment factor as the basis in developing the country's palm oil industry, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said today.
Under the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) Certification Scheme, he said, about 625,900ha of oil palm planted areas in the country had been certified.
"This is a 160 per cent (384,110ha) increase of MSPO total certified area, from 241,790ha in June 2017 to 625,900ha as of January this year.
"Also, there are 59 MSPO certified palm oil mills in Malaysia as of January compared to only 22 mills in June 2017. This is a 170 per cent increase.
"We are very committed (on sustainability). I want to show that Malaysia is committed towards sustainability.
"We do not allowed things to spoil the environment. In Malaysia, we are very concerned about the environment. In Malaysia, we have many laws regarding the cultivation of palm oil," he said this on the back of the EU Parliament's recent resolution calling for the phasing out of palm oil from EU biofuel programme by 2021.
Mah said Malaysia's commitment to ramp up its sustainably-produced palm oil efforts would be clearly conveyed to the European Union, especially when the 28 nations in the EU would hold their trilogue meetings, starting from next week.
"It is not yet a law.The EU still has to go through its trilogues," Mah said, adding that he had also briefed the Cabinet on the results of his just-concluded trip to Europe where he led a Malaysian delegation for the Malaysia-EU Palm Oil Consultation.
He said Malaysia had furnished facts and figures to several EU nations during the recent meetings as it was unfair for the bloc to blame Malaysia for deforestation and other related environmental issues.
Mah said his team had met representatives of six countries in the EU-Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain and Poland, which form nearly 50 per cent of Europe's population.
"It has been a very promising visit to these six countries. Out of six, five have agreed not to support the discrimination against palm oil," he said, but declined to name the one country that had not done so.
More needed to be done to convince that one country by providing it with more facts and figures (on palm oil), he added.
It was reported that Italy was the latest in the EU to oppose the bloc' decision to phase out palm oil in biofuels by 2021.
Italy is the second-largest importer of palm oil in the EU, with a total of 362,259 tonnes exported to the Mediterranean country last year. It is estimated that 90 per cent of biscuits and baked goods in Italian supermarkets contain palm oil.
Other EU countries reported to have taken a stance against the proposed ban are Spain, Sweden, France, the Netherlands and the UK.
The Netherlands imported over a million tonnes of Malaysian palm oil in 2017 — representing nearly half of total imports by the EU for the year. Spain, Sweden and the UK imported 304,280, 116,833 and 21,347 tonnes respectively over the same period, while France brought in 629 tonnes.
Mah also said that he was hopeful that Malaysia's palm oil would not be discriminated in the European Union after securing support from these five biggest nations in the bloc against the move.
"We are confident the palm oil will not be discriminated and will continue to have dialogues with individual countries in Europe by stating our commitment towards sustainability."
Mah also reiterated his call to Asean nations to form a united stance against the EU parliament's decision, as the ban would affect more than three million smallholders in the oil palm industry.
Malaysia is one of the three world largest palm oil producers with Indonesia producing 54 per cent of palm oil, followed by Malaysia at 30 per cent and Thailand four per cent.
Earlier, Mah had received a courtesy call from Singapore High Commissioner to Malaysia Vanu Gopala Menon.