Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has urged stronger collaboration with Malaysia to protect palm oil products, which are under threat due to what he termed as ‘discrimination’ by a European Union (EU) trade law.
The EU legislation, adopted by the European Parliament in April, aims to ban imports that contribute to deforestation as part of the bloc’s efforts to combat climate change.
The law, which is still awaiting final approval from EU member countries, would impose restrictions on imports of various commodities, including coffee, cocoa, soy, timber, palm oil, cattle, printing paper, and rubber.
The regulation would prohibit imports from lands deforested after December 31, 2020, into the EU market, the third-largest market for Indonesia and Malaysia.
During a joint press conference with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim in Putrajaya, the administrative capital of Malaysia, President Widodo emphasized the need to strengthen collaboration between the two countries and prevent discrimination against their commodities.
Indonesia is the largest global supplier of palm oil, which is widely used in food production, cosmetics, soap, and other industries.
However, palm oil has been the subject of controversy due to its association with deforestation in Malaysia and Indonesia, which together produce 85% of the world’s output.
Environmentalists blame palm oil plantations for destroying habitats of endangered animals, and there have also been reports of mistreatment and abuse of foreign workers on some estates.
President Widodo expressed his appreciation for the ongoing cooperation between Indonesia and Malaysia, highlighting a recent visit by officials to Brussels to address the EU’s deforestation law.
A joint statement issued after the two leaders’ meeting stated their commitment to working closely together to counteract discriminatory measures targeting palm oil by the EU. They called on the EU to promptly address these measures and strive for a fair and equitable resolution.