MADRID: Spain declared it does not support the European Union (EU) Parliament's resolution as it realised the banning of palm oil would backfire on the country’s biodiesel industry, a Malaysian Cabinet minister said.
On January 17, 2018 the European Parliament had voted to phase out palm biodiesel from the EU energy mix after 2020.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said he had recently met up with Danial Navia Simon (Secretary of State Ministry of Energy), Maria Poncela Garcia (Secretary of State Ministry of International Trade) and Jaimie Haddad (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment).
Following the meeting, Mah said the Spanish government declared it does not support palm oil ban. This is because the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) II violates free trade aspirations of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
In a statement today, Mah welcomed the Spanish government's commitment to reject the palm oil ban.
"If this resolution to ban palm oil were to become an EU legislation, any alternative to replace palm oil would backfire in higher costs.
"The cost increase will ultimately be borne by consumers which in turn will result in bigger losses for biodiesel industry players in Spain," Mah added.
Spain is the latest EU member country to speak up against discriminating palm oil, after France, Sweden, the UK (Conservative MPs -- part of the governing party of the UK Prime Minister Theresa May), Germany and the Netherlands.
Mah, who is now leading a Malaysian delegation to Europe for the Malaysia-EU Palm Oil Consultation, had attended three bilateral meetings with representatives of the Spanish government in Madrid.
Mah voiced Malaysia’s concern and strong stand against the European Parliament's resolution via the RED II to ban the use of palm biodiesel.
The Malaysian government spoke up against the biased resolution which discriminates palm oil against other vegetable oils. Mah reiterated the palm oil industry deserves equal opportunities to trade because more than 650,000 palm oil small farmers' livelihoods in Malaysia are at stake.
Among the 28 EU member countries, Spain is the biggest biodiesel consumer and spends RM1 billion annually to import palm oil as feedstock. It is the EU's second largest palm oil importer after the Netherlands with an annual value of nearly RM1 billion.
Representatives from the Spanish government assured fair treatment for palm oil that is in line with rules set by the WTO.
In a separate meeting on Sunday, Mah also met Spanish palm oil importers in Madrid. He said Malaysia appreciated the support of palm oil clients in Spain.
Spanish palm importers expressed hope that the Malaysian government would continue to stand up against the EU Parliament resolution to ban palm oil. Palm oil clients in Spain are willing to cooperate with Malaysia to address misunderstandings and negative perception among consumers there.
The Malaysia-EU Palm Oil Consultation continues with a series of meetings with government representatives and EU Commissioners in Belgium, the UK, Germany, Poland and Italy.