Malaysia and other palm oil-producing nations must not stay silent nor hesitate to take countermeasures if importing countries choose to impose discriminatory trade barriers, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.
"If there is any evidence that such discriminatory trade practices are in violation of any international laws, Malaysia and other producing countries under the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) must seek intervention from the World Trade Organisation," he said at the Malaysian Palm Oil Board’s International Palm Oil Congress and Exhibition (MPOB PIPOC) 2019.
Mahathir said Malaysia and other palm oil-producing nations are stepping up efforts to disseminate accurate information about sustainable oil palm plantations and to counter false allegations concerning palm oil with credible facts.
He said that despite the reversal in tax breaks on palm oil by the French government, Malaysia still continues to receive demands for palm oil from the country.
Last Friday, French lawmakers voted to remove the tax breaks for the use of palm oil as a biofuel following protests from environmentalists on its decision to use the crop as a biofuel a day earlier.
Moving forward, Mahathir said the palm oil industry must adopt and equip itself with the latest technologies and innovations to remain competitive and relevant.
“New technologies that are incorporated into the entire value chain should be the catalyst for modernisation of the whole industry, making it more productive and efficient while enhancing growth and value addition.
“It is important for the industry to move towards mechanisation and capitalise on the technological pillars of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR 4.0), which not only enhances the overall operational efficiency of the industry but also results in sustainable development, where precision operation is evident in the form of reduced labour inputs and improved productivity,” he said.
On the promotion of sustainable palm oil, he said the country will continue to push for the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) as Malaysia’s brand of sustainability and for it to be internationally recognised and accepted.
“It is very important for our palm oil industry, including our smallholders, to practise good agriculture and to ensure a sustainable industry.
“To assist the smallholders, I have mandated a government-linked company to work closely with smallholders in an effort to increase the adoption of MSPO certification as part of the company’s sustainable supply chain,” he said.
Mahathir said he would also encourage other major industry players to assume their corporate responsibility by assisting the smallholders to achieve MSPO certification.
As at October 2019, 60 percent of Malaysia’s total oil palm cultivated areas and 72.6 percent of the total 448 mills are MSPO-certified.
Themed “Balancing Sustainability Pillars”, PIPOC 2019 focuses on the latest research and sustainable practises to develop a sustainable global palm oil industry in the face of continuous negative allegations raised by anti-palm oil campaigners.