Friday, 5 September 2008

Chin To Lead Joint Ministerial Mission To Europe

September 04, 2008

Chin To Lead Joint Ministerial Mission To EuropeBy Tengku Noor

Shamsiah Tengku AbdullahKUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 (Bernama) -- Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui will be leading a nine-day Joint Ministerial Mission to Europe namely to The Hague, Brussels and London beginning September 7 - 15.

Chin said the mission was an effort to address various issues pertaining to Malaysian palm oil and timber with relevant European stakeholders.It is co-organised by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) and the Malaysian Timber Council (MTC) and delegates will comprise representatives from the private sector as well as officials from the ministry, MPOC, MTC, Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), and Members of Parliament.

Also on the list are MPOC chairman Datuk Seri Lee Oi Hian, its chief executive officer (CEO) Tan Sri Dr Yusof Basiron, MPOB chairman Datuk Sabri Ahmad and director-general Datuk Dr Mohd Basri Wahid as well as MTC CEO Cheah Kam Huan.

"Our main target for the mission will be in Brussels, where we will have series of dialogues and meetings with the members of the EU Parliament, European Commission (EC), European Biodiesel Board and few other EU key representatives," he told Bernama here prior to his departure to Europe Wednesday night.

He said the European Parliament has tightened conditions on biofuel recently and has recommended to the European Commission (EC) that biofuel from palm oil cannot be sold in Europe unless it comes from sustainable source.

Chin said among the key issues to be discussed include sustainability of palm oil, EU's proposal on Biofuel and Renewable Energy Directives, carbon emission of palm biofuels, and conservation of the environment and the wildlife.

He said the initiative by the European Union in taking the lead in mandating the use of biofuel based on environment concerns and with specific targets for its member countries was a positive move.The EU has set a target of 5.75 percent for its transport fuels to be based on biofuel by 2010, and has proposed that this target be increased to 10 percent by 2020.

These efforts are commendable and in tandem with measures especially by the developed countries in taking the lead towards reducing global warming, Chin said.

This positive move by the EU needs to be supported by appropriate and sufficient supply of biofuel.However, due to its domestic constraints, there is a need to import biofuel from other sources including from developing countries to meet its target on biofuel utilisation.

Developing countries which have sufficient resources in the form of vegetable oil production such as Malaysia and others should be allowed to produce and export such biofuel to these countries.

However, he said recent moves by the importing countries which include seeking a balance between sustainable practices and market opening may not create the opportunity to supply the additional biofuel to meet the said objectives outlined.

Chin said part of the highlight of the mission in Brussels include a Joint Malaysia-Indonesia Programme.Based on our close cooperation with Indonesia led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, he said they have formulated a programme with the Indonesian counterpart to address the issue of common interests with the EU.

In The Hague, Chin said he would be meeting with the Dutch Ministers and their Members of Parliament, where Malaysia has a bilateral agreement.Another highlight of the mission, the minister said will be the World Sustainable Palm Oil Conference in London on Sept 15 where he is scheduled to deliver a keynote address.

He said importing countries are increasingly questioning the sustainability of palm oil production and its use for biofuel."Among other things, we will discuss allegations by certain quarters, in particular the non-governmental organisations."Allegations have included associating palm oil production with destruction of rainforests and orangutan habitats as well as the loss of biodiversity.-- BERNAMA