Thursday, December 7, 2023

EU Should Recognize ISPO, MSPO-Certified Palm Oil: Indonesia

Jayanty Nada Shofa
June 1, 2023 | 7:17 pm
Chief Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartarto at a luncheon meeting with European palm oil industry players in Brussels on May 30, 2023. (Photo Courtesy of Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs)
Chief Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartarto at a luncheon meeting with European palm oil industry players in Brussels on May 30, 2023. (Photo Courtesy of Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs)

Jakarta. Palm oil-producing countries Indonesia and Malaysia recently sent a joint mission to Brussels to fight back against the European Union or EU's deforestation law.

Some of their demands include the recognition of the two countries' national sustainability certifications of palm oil, namely Indonesia's ISPO and the Malaysian MSPO.

Indonesia had Chief Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartarto representing the country, while close neighbor Malaysia sent its Plantation Minister Fadillah Yusof on the joint mission.

The EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) only allows companies to sell products in the EU market if their suppliers have proved the products do not come from deforested land after the cut-off date Dec. 31, 2020. Palm oil, cattle, soy, coffee, cocoa, timber, and rubber as well as the derivatives of the said commodities are subject to the EUDR. According to Airlangga, the EUDR should have given way for ISPO or MSPO-certified palm oil products.


"Our message to the EU is crystal clear. Give us the recognition that we deserve. Hopefully, we can get concrete results, as well as common and mutual understanding in our meetings with the European Commission and Parliament so we can continue to move forward," Airlangga said at a recent meeting with European palm oil industry players in Brussels, as quoted by a ministerial press statement.

Airlangga said that Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) members have issued a number of forest conservation policies. For instance, CPOPC founding father Indonesia managed to lower its deforestation rate by a whopping 75 percent in 2019-2020.

"Indonesia has also reduced areas affected by forest fires by 91.84 percent," Airlangga said.

The joint mission expressed concerns over the EUDR's benchmarking system which would categorize nations as low, standard, or high risk of products being associated with deforestation. Airlangga said that the benchmarking system could hamper the market access for commodities subject to the EUDR, not to mention the bad image that comes with being classified as high-risk nations.

The Brussels visit also included a meeting with European civil society and non-government organizations. The discussions also revolved around geolocation coordinates, among others.

The EUDR requires operators to provide geolocation coordinates of the plots of land where the commodities are produced. The geolocation coordinates can be troublesome for smallholders. According to the CPOPC, smallholders account for 41 percent and 27 percent of the total oil palm planted areas in Indonesia and Malaysia, respectively.

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