Indonesia and Malaysia want to protect their palm oil from EU rules

Indonesian palm oil "discriminated against" by the European Union. These are the words of Indonesian President Joko Widodo who called for strengthening collaboration with Malaysia to protect their palm oil. They are responsible for 85% of world production, and a recent law of the European Parliament does not pass at all for the two Asian countries.

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim (l) and Indonesian President Joko Widodo (r) in Kuala Lumpur, June 8, 2023. AFP - MOHD RASFAN

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The European Union is the third largest export market for Malaysian and Indonesian palm oil. This is a significant financial windfall for both countries.

But palm oil cultivation is highly criticized, especially by environmentalists. It leads to deforestation of tropical forests through the planting of oil palms, a high-yield tree and which therefore produces this oil, which is highly sought after by the agri-food industry as well as for biofuels. Its production is growing strongly.

But the European Parliament passed a law in April to ban the import of agricultural products when they contribute to deforestation. Cocoa, coffee, soy... and palm oil are now banned if these products come from deforested land after December 2020.

In a statement, the presidents of Indonesia and Malaysia stressed that the European Union must respond quickly to these measures, which they consider "discriminatory". They call on the Union to work together for "a fair and equitable resolution".

The EU, which accounts for 16% of global deforestation through imports, is, according to the NGO WWF, the second largest destroyer of tropical forests behind China.

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Read on on the same topics:

  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • European Union
  • Environment