Malaysia Cries Foul Over EU Deforestation Claims

Malaysia’s deputy prime minister criticised a new EU regulation to ban certain products and commodities often associated with deforestation and forest degradation.

Speaking at a press conference, deputy prime minister Fadillah Yusof, who is also plantation and commodities minister, said the EU regulation was basically directed at commodities such as palm oil, timber, cocoa and rubber, and was damaging to free and fair trade.

“The deforestation-free products regulation is a deliberate act by Europe to block market access, hurt small farmers and protect a domestic oilseeds market that is inefficient and cannot compete with the cost of palm oil,” Fadillah said.

He added that the regulation could lead to higher food prices and reduced output at a time of record global inflation, and said the EU’s justification of the ban was based on “unsound reasoning” as Malaysian palm oil was sustainable and among the most certified vegetable oils in the world.

The EU reached an agreement on December 6 to ban the import of products, which have been identified as a “driver of deforestation”, if they come from land deforested after December 31, 2020.

It said when the new rules come into force, all relevant companies will have to conduct strict due diligence if they wish to place their products on the EU market.

“It would be offensive to Malaysia if either palm oil, or the country, is designated high-risk by the EU regulation. There is no justification for it,” Fadillah said.

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