A specific mission to the European Union (EU) can help solve the challenges facing Malaysia’s palm oil industry, says Belgium’s ambassador to Malaysia.
Daniel Dargent, who mooted the idea, said it would be good for Malaysia to set up an embassy that is specifically in charge of the EU, like the one EU has in Malaysia.
“EU is an official body and there are many embassies credited to the EU. Therefore, it is best to establish one in order to facilitate more direct links and contacts with the EU counterparts for exchanges and progress,” he said.
Dargent said with the new Malaysian government, more discussions could be made to obtain consensus and positive outcomes on palm oil-related issues.
Last week, Primary Industries Deputy Minister Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin said Malaysia was open and willing to collaborate with European countries in creating greater consumer awareness on sustainable palm oil production and the health benefits of palm oil.
He was responding to recent remarks by France’s ambassador to Malaysia Frederic Laplanche in an interview with Bernama that public opinion regarding palm oil in the EU was still negative due to concerns on climate change, environmental protection and biodiversity conservation.
Shamsul Iskandar said Malaysia would like to request Laplanche and the entire EU diplomatic community in Malaysia continue working with his ministry to better inform the critics of the palm oil industry.
On the EU’s negative public opinion concerning climate change and the environment, Dargent noted that Malaysia had its own practices in dealing with such matters.
“As far as environmental issues are concerned, I think it is a global question where every country has its own way of protecting the planet and the biodiversity of their land.
“I personally think, with the new Malaysian government today, more discussions and new approaches can be pursued,” he said.
In January, the European Parliament voted in favour of a draft law on renewable energy that called for the use of palm oil in biofuels to be banned from 2021, a decision that could affect millions of oil palm growers in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.
The EU reasoned that the widely used commodity would derail Europe’s ambitions to green its transport sector if used as biodiesel.
Palm oil is Malaysia’s top export to the EU, representing 49% of the region’s imports.
Malaysia’s palm oil industry received a brief respite after the EU softened its stance on the use of palm oil among its member countries by omitting any mention of the commodity in the EU’s updated Renewable Energy Directive.
The omission came after an agreement was reached during a trilogue involving the EU Parliament, European Council and European Commission on June 14.
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