Saturday, 13 September 2008

Malaysia, Indonesia want EU to consider their views

Malaysia, Indonesia want EU to consider their views

BRUSSELS: Malaysia and Indonesia want the European Union (EU) to consider their views pertaining to its directives on renewable energy and fuel quality, especially on the use of palm oil for the production of biofuel.
“Malaysia and Indonesia jointly account for 85 per cent of global palm oil production. Therefore we hope the EU acknowledges and give us a chance to be heard,” said Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui.

Chin said this to Malaysian and Indonesian journalists at joint press conference between both countries at the EU Parliament House here yesterday.

Earlier, Malaysia and Indonesia had a joint Roundtable Discussions with members of the European Parliament.

The discussion was chaired by Miroslav Ouzky, a member of EU Parliament.

Chin led the Malaysian delegation and Indonesia by Dr Anton Apriyantono, Minister of Agriculture.

In a joint communique issued after the roundtable, Malaysia and Indonesia expressed concern on the proposed emission savings for palm-based biodiesel in the EU directives on renewal energy which were below the specified threshold value of 35 per cent.

“This will exclude palm oil and impose onerous requirements to provide actual data for each and every consignment of palm oil or biodiesel exported to the EU.

“The value set by the EU was based on secondary data, which may not be representative of the current scenario,” Chin said.

On the implementation date of January 2008, he said both countries agreed that the EU directives, being a piece of legislation, should be effective prospectively and not retrospectively as this would be unfair to economic operators.

Chin said both countries proposed a grace period of three years after the directives came into force.

On the imposition of off-limit areas such as high carbon stock, high biodiversity and continuously deforested areas, both countries wished to reiterate the principle that this could not overrule the national policies and regulations on their utilisation as this was regarded as sovereign rights.
He said the definitions of ‘forest’ and ‘deforestation’ were not clear and appeared to prevent the replanting of tree crops, such as rubber to palm oil which both countries believed were not the intention of the directives.
Chin said there was no clear definitions of ‘high biodiversity grass land’ and ‘continuously forested area’.

“The methods of defining higher biodiversity and high carbon stock are not available in the directives.

“The directives were more focused on the environmental (planet) aspect rather than taking into account the other two factors i.e. people and profit as provided for under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil,” he said.
On the issue of food versus fuel, Chin said, both countries reiterated their agreement that no more than six million tonnes of crude palm oil would be allocated for fuel purposes.

“However, it is the prerogative of importing countries to balance the usage of palm oil between food and fuel,” he said.

Last year, Malaysia produced 15.82 million tonnes of crude palm oil, while Indonesia’s output was 16.9 million tonnes.

Chin and Anton were satisfied at the outcome of the Roundtable Discussions.
— Bernama