Malaysian minister: ‘Palm oil is a deal-braker for EU-ASEAN trade relations’

(EurActiv, 10 May 2019) Teresa Kok, Malaysia’s Minister of Primary Industries, visited Brussels and other European capitals this week in a last-ditch effort to kill new EU rules that will ban the use of palm oil in biofuels – a measure European adopted because of concerns about deforestation.

In an interview with EURACTIV, Kok warned that Malaysia would adopt retaliatory measures to penalise European products if the ban goes ahead as planned. Furthermore, the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) will not sign a partnership agreement with the EU unless palm oil is allowed again.

Teresa Kok has been serving as a Minister of Primary Industries in Malaysia since July 2018. She spoke with EURACTIV’s Jorge Valero.

What exactly are you trying to achieve with this tour, given that the European Parliament is not expected to reject the new rules (delegated act) next week?

We can stop it by talking to different stakeholders. I met with some Council officials and I will visit Germany, Italy, the Vatican, and the UK. If one of these member states oppose or differ, we can stop it.

If the new rules enter into force, what will be your response?

I will discuss this with other ministries and agencies related to trade. We have to look at a long list of trade items with Europe.

We will also discuss with our Attorney General department what other actions we can take, especially if we want to launch a report to the World Trade Organisation.

In addition, we are waiting to discuss with Indonesia too [the largest producer of palm oil in the world]. That country just held a national election, and is in the process of forming a new cabinet. We will wait and sit down with the new minister, to see what actions we can take with Indonesia.

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EurActiv, 10 May 2019: Malaysian minister: ‘Palm oil is a deal-braker for EU-ASEAN trade relations’