Indonesia last week expressed concerns regarding the European Parliament’s resolution on palm oil and deforestation during meetings with delegations of the European Union and has urged a more comprehensive discussion on the issue.
According to a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Indonesia reiterated its views at an Asean-EU meeting in Bangkok, Thailand, on Friday (07/07) that the steps taken by the European Parliament were based on inaccurate and unaccountable data.
In early April, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on palm oil and deforestation, which Indonesia subsequently criticized on the basis that it discriminates against local palm oil manufacturers and disregards the country’s recent efforts to introduce sustainable practices to the industry.
The Foreign Ministry’s Asean cooperation director general Jose Tavares said the resolution is not helpful to discussions on issues like deforestation, and is disadvantageous to the palm oil industry and local communities that depend on palm oil production for work.
Indonesia has continued to argue that palm oil is not the main cause of deforestation.
“In 2013, the European Union issued a review saying that palm oil production contributed 2.3 percent to total deforestation, whereas livestock grazing contributed 24.6 percent and soybean farming 5.4 percent,” Jose said, as quoted in a press release.
Indonesia hopes that the EU will facilitate a more balanced discussion on palm oil plantations, noting that they should be less discriminatory and more comprehensive in nature. The country also hopes that the EU will recognize sustainable palm oil schemes in the future.
Similar concerns were voiced by the Indonesian delegation during the 13th Trade Policy Review toward the EU at the World Trade Organization in Geneva last week.
“The resolution is not proper, and the EU needs to acknowledge the efforts made by the Indonesian government to manage and promote sustainable palm oil production,” said Dody Edward, an expert staff member to the minister of trade for international relations, according to a press release issued by the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the UN.
Existing efforts to introduce sustainability in palm oil production includes Indonesia’s ratification of the Paris Agreement, the implementation of a moratorium on the expansion of palm oil land, and the introduction of regulations governing peatland restoration and sustainable palm oil practices.
The EU delegation said during the review that the resolution is not considered legally binding to the executive body of the European Commission.
EU ambassador to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam Vincent Guérendalso said in May that the resolution doesn’t create laws and although the resolution puts 2020 as a target date, it is in no way legally binding.
Although Guérend then said reports claiming the EU has boycotted Indonesian palm oil and palm-oil related products are not factual, Dody said during the review last week that the resolution emphasized the ongoing negative campaign toward palm oil in the European Union.