Kok: Malaysia still keeping option to file WTO complaint against EU over palm oil

Jerry Choong
Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok clarified today that Malaysia has not retracted its option to file a complaint with the WTO against the EU and its Delegated Regulation on palm oil. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 14 — Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok clarified today that Malaysia has not retracted its option to file a complaint with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against the European Union (EU) and its Delegated Regulation on palm oil.

Referring to a Reuters news report earlier today, she said the ministry continues to view the EU’s Delegated Regulation as a discredit to the Malaysian palm oil industry’s commitment towards mandatory sustainability.

“This is due to the fact that it creates additional trade barriers and impedes our sustainability efforts throughout our palm oil supply chain,” Kok said in a statement.

She further added the ministry’s highest-level legal team is examining the petition with the aim of making it as watertight as possible.

“We have thus always agreed to intervene as a co-complainant and join the likes of Indonesia and other palm oil producers at the opportune juncture at the WTO proceedings.

“The Reuters report deliberately misquoted me as saying that Malaysia no longer plans to file the WTO suit against EU restriction on palm oil. This was not the thrust of my intention when the Reuters journalist interviewed me in Brussels yesterday,” Kok said.

The minister added that during the interview, she clearly emphasised that her current mission is to meet with European leaders and explain the efforts made by the Malaysian government and palm oil industry in producing sustainable palm oil, and various green conservation projects initiated by the industry.

“I sought the endorsement of EU leaders on Malaysian Sustainable Palm OIl (MSPO) certification and to accept MSPO certified palm oil into Europe.

“This is in line with the announcement of seven EU countries in the Amsterdam Declaration on Fully Sustainable Palm Oil by 2020,” Kok said.

Noting that she conveyed Malaysia’s concern over the Delegated Regulation and EU RED II passed by European Parliament that discriminated against the usage of palm oil in biofuel to EU Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, Kok said she further sought for review of the Delegated Regulation by way of an expert joint working group.

“Kadri Simson concurred with our views to activate the expert consultation between EU and palm oil producers and Malaysia will raise its objections at the Joint Working Group of EU and Palm Oil Producing Countries to review the Delegated Regulations.

“The review process of the Delegated Regulations is planned to take place soon and should be completed by June 2021.

Malaysia meanwhile has been accepted as an interested party to observe the proceedings at the Indonesian suit against the EU at the WTO,” she said, adding her remarks to Reuters appears to have been twisted.

Kok concluded by saying that Malaysia will still negotiate on these issues with the EU through bilateral meetings and negotiations, but will not back off from the WTO suit all the same.

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