‘Palm oil is God’s gift’- Malaysia aims to rebrand controversial crop

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Bangkok, July 22, 2020 Malaysia’s government will use the slogan “Palm oil is God’s gift” to try countering international criticism linking the widely used commodity to habitat destruction a government official said.

Plantations and Commodities Minister Khairuddin Aman Razali, speaking in parliament on Wednesday, framed the rebranding as a riposte to “the demands of the European lobbyists who want to increase their exports of soya oil.”

Malaysia and Indonesia, which together account for between 80 and 90 per cent of global palm oil production, have been at odds with the European Union over European plans to reduce palm oil use.

“The oil is an ingredient in a wide array of products, from fuels to cosmetics to confectionery.

“However, the levelling of jungle to make way for plantations has long been blamed for endangering species such as the Sumatran tiger and orangutan.

“Malaysia and Indonesia say the European proposals are a fig leaf for protectionism and aimed at boosting the growth and production of replacement crops and oils, such as soybeans, in Europe.

“Malaysia is planning to file a World Trade Organisation case against the EU,’’ the government said on Monday.

Palm oil and related products comprised 3.9 per cent of Malaysian goods exports in 2019.

According to the Malaysian Palm Oil Association, Malaysia’s palm oil plantations face reduced output in 2020 due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and a related labour shortfall.

Report says the sector relies on migrant workers from countries such as Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Malaysia’s border has been closed to almost all visitors since March 18, forcing plantations to freeze recruitment.

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