EU Resolution on Palm Oil Is Discriminatory: Foreign Ministry


APRIL 10, 2017

Jakarta. The Indonesian government criticized the European Parliament’s resolution on palm oil and deforestation of forests, saying it discriminated against local palm oil production methods and disregarded efforts to introduce sustainable practices, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Saturday (08/04).

The resolution  passed last week during a European Parliament plenary session — aims to counter the impact of unsustainable palm oil production, such as deforestation and habitat degradation. The resolution cited Southeast Asia's role in particular.

Members of the European Parliament advocated that a single certification scheme should be implemented in order to guarantee that only sustainably produced palm oil enters the European Union.

"This discriminative act is contrary to the European Union’s position as a champion of open [...], free and fair trade," the statement said, referring to the certification scheme.

It added that the resolution was based on "inaccurate and unaccountable data on developments related to palm oil and forestry management in palm oil producing countries," which included Indonesia.

The ministry argued that palm oil is not the main cause of deforestation, contrary to the resolution which cited a European Commission study in 2013 arguing that palm oil contributes to approximately 2.5 percent of global deforestation.

"Palm oil is part of the solution to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and provides a positive contribution to [the] increasing global demand for biofuels to replace fossil fuels," the statement said.

The ministry disagreed with the proposed single certification scheme, saying it is a barrier to existing trade relations and is counterproductive to the government's efforts to improve palm oil production practices.

"The recommendation to phase out the use of palm oil within the resolution is protectionist in nature," the statement said.

The foreign ministry also said the resolution disregards Indonesia's multistakeholder approach, which seeks to bring all relevant stakeholders together to participate in the decision making and implementation of solutions towards the common goal of sustainable palm oil production.

It also directly impacts 16 million small-scale palm oil farmers in villages across Indonesia who produce 41 percent of palm oil in the country, the statement said.

The ministry also said the resolution does not take into account the government's and various stakeholders' efforts to introduce sustainable practices in palm oil production.

Existing efforts includes Indonesia's ratification of the Paris Agreement, implementing a moratorium on the expansion of palm oil land, and introducing regulations governing peatland restoration and sustainable palm oil practices.

Indonesia exported 25 million tons of crude palm oil last year — mainly to India, China, Pakistan and the Netherlands — bringing in $17.8 billion in revenue, or about an eighth of the country's total export proceeds.

Malaysia  another Southeast Asian nation that is also impacted by the resolution  has described the resolution as unfair and said that the single certification scheme was "flawed and did not meet internationally accepted standards on sustainability," Malaysian state news agency Bernama reported.