Statement from Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Government of Malaysia

Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Mah Siew Keong, released the following statement, after the EU Parliament voted in Strasbourg to ban all Palm Oil biofuels, as part of the EU’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED):

  1. The vote by the EU Parliament to exclude Palm Oil biofuels from the EU’s renewable energy future is a wholly unjustified blockade against Malaysian farmers, families and communities.
  2. The EU Parliament’s plan would allow all other oilseed crops to continue operating under the RED, whereas Palm Oil will be excluded. This is a clear case of discrimination against Palm Oil producing countries. The EU is practising a form of Crop Apartheid.
  3. The Malaysian Government views this as an unacceptable and protectionist trade barrier, and a breach of the EU’s WTO commitments. We will not hesitate to take corrective action. The EU Parliament’s decision to discriminate against Palm Oil biofuels will negatively impact European trade and cooperation in Malaysia, and the wider South East Asian region.
  4. We urge European Governments, and the Council of the EU, to reject the EU Parliament’s position on Palm Oil biofuels. The Parliament’s blockade will place at risk the work of the Council of the EU in creating European jobs and expanding bilateral trade and other strategic interests in South-East Asia.
  5. The EU Parliament’s allegations relating to Malaysian Palm Oil’s environmental impact are demonstrably false. Malaysia has one of the most advanced forest protection regimes in the world, as recognised by the United Nations and the World Bank, among others. Malaysia’s forest protection is vastly superior to that of almost every EU Member State.
  6. Malaysian Palm Oil exporters are able to meet the strictest standards of sustainability required by our European customers, and Malaysian Palm Oil biofuel exporters have been certified as sustainable by leading European sustainability schemes, including the German ISCC (International Sustainability and Carbon Certification), as recognised by the EU Commission.
  7. Malaysia has proven world-leading sustainable palm oil practices, as confirmed by the EU Commission’s own recognised sustainability schemes. The EU Parliament’s attempt to denigrate Malaysia is insulting and has no basis in fact.
  8. The Malaysian Government will take any action necessary to protect the rights of 650,000 Malaysian Palm Oil small farmers, and to secure the future of the Palm Oil sector that has lifted millions of Malaysians out of poverty. Protectionist discrimination against Malaysian Palm Oil exports will not be tolerated.

Notes to Editors:

  1. Malaysian Palm Oil is responsible for RM70bn (€14.5bn) in annual export revenue; and around 7.5 per cent of all Malaysian exports.
  2. 39 per cent of all oil palm plantations in Malaysia are cultivated by small farmers. Palm oil programme have lifted millions of Malaysians out of poverty[1].
  3. EU exports to Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, total over €40billion annually[2].
  4. Malaysia’s forest cover is over 50 per cent, as reported in the UNFAO Global Forest Resources Assessment[3]

[1] Ragayah, Haji Mat Zin (2013). The New Economic Policy and Poverty Eradication. In Terence Gomez and Johan Saravanamuttu (eds). The New Economic Policy in Malaysia: Affirmative Action, Ethnic Inequalities and Social Justice. Singapore, NUS Press.

[2]Malaysia,” European Commission, 16 March 2017 ; Indonesia,” European Commission, 16 March 2017; Thailand,” European Commission, 16 March 2017.

[3] United Nations FAO: