Work permit extended for 300,000 under 6P programme

This is written by my colleague Zafira Anwar.

PUTRAJAYA: The government has agreed to extend the temporary work permits for more than 300,000 foreign workers, registered under the 6P programme, for a year with immediate effect.

Home Ministry acting secretary-general Datuk Alwi Ibrahim said the decision came after the government had weighed what the impact of a sudden decrease in the workforce would have on the economy and to give time to employers to find replacement workers.

“The government realises that the loss of workforce in a large number will cause a sudden and major impact on businesses and the economy.

“Hence, the cabinet has agreed to the one-year extension, allowing employers who have yet to send their foreign workers to their home countries to prepare for their replacements.” 

He said this after attending a meeting between Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Indonesian Manpower Minister Muhammad Hanif Dhakiri here yesterday.

He said the extension applied only to those who had their temporary work permits under the 6P programme and were legally employed. “This extension is effective immediately."

Any employer who intends to continue employing foreign workers during the extension period may apply for the renewal of the temporary work permit at Immigration offices nationwide.” Alwi reminded employers to send workers back to their countries at the end of next year.

He said based on the Immigration Department’s records, 352,493 foreign workers, registered under the 6P programme, would complete their term as stipulated in the programme at the end of this year or next month.

On Monday, Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan, in appealing to the government to extend the temporary work permits, had cautioned that failure to do so would lead to the recruitment of unskilled workers to replace them.

This, Shamsuddin said, would cause severe manpower shortages in key industries and would affect the country’s economic growth.

He was also quoted in a report on Wednesday as saying that employers might need to spend RM2.5 billion to recruit new foreign workers to replace those sent home under the 6P programme. 

In August 2011, the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers implemented the 6P programme to reduce the number of immigrants who entered the country illegally or who had overstayed their work permits.

Under the Registration, Legalisation, Amnesty, Supervision, Enforcement and Deportation programme (abbreviated in Bahasa Malaysia to 6P), illegal foreign workers were required to register with the Home Ministry and have their fingerprints recorded in a biometric system.

Under the 6P programme, foreigners in the service sector were issued temporary work visiting passes lasting two years, while those working in manufacturing, construction and plantations received three years.

The cabinet’s decision for the extension came two days after the government insisted that foreign workers must return to their home countries next month and observe the compulsory six-month cooling-off period before returning to Malaysia.

Immigration Department deputy director-general (operations) Datuk Sakib Kusmi was quoted as saying that those with temporary work visit passes under the 6P programme must honour the understanding agreed upon in 2011.

He also said employers should have taken proactive measures to prepare for the “exodus” of their workers, as they were aware of the situation since 2011.

Sakib said the government did not want the foreigners to remain in Malaysia continuously for more than five years, as they could then request for permanent resident status.

‘Locals not willing to do 3D jobs’

PUTRAJAYA: The majority of locals are not interested in working in an environment that is either dirty, difficult or dangerous, forcing employers to hire foreign workers instead.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said because of this, such jobs, also known as the three Ds (3Ds), were taken up by foreigners.

“The most locals will work in these ‘3D industries’ is three months. Some work for a month, a week or even a day (before quitting). I am not siding with the foreigners, but this is the truth,” he said after receiving a courtesy call from Indonesian Manpower Minister Muhammad Hanif Dhakiri at his office here yesterday.

Malaysia's Home Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi met up with Indonesian Manpower Minister Hanif Dhakiri at Putrajaya yesterday.
Also present at the bilateral meeting yesterday was Home Ministry’s acting secretary-general Datuk Alwi Ibrahim.

Zahid said employers could not be entirely blamed for hiring foreigners, as locals were reluctant to work in “3D industries”.

“Sometimes, I sympathise with the employers for facing difficulties in securing local workers,” he said, adding that although priority for employment must be given to locals, most employers did not have much choice, and were forced to hire foreigners.

However, said Zahid, employers must adhere to the ministry’s guidelines, failing which would result in the workforce being flooded with illegal foreign workers brought in by rogue agents.

“These irresponsible agents would charge employers extra, claiming that it was for obtaining the required documents. (However), these rogue agents did not register with the authorities. This is why there are still a lot of illegal foreign workers,” he said, adding that Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s efforts, through his Manpower Ministry to legalise its workers here, must be commended.

On a separate matter, Zahid said the ministry was in the midst of getting banks from both nations to work together to allow Indonesian workers to open up accounts using I-cards to prevent them from being cheated out of their salaries by their employers.

“This is to ensure that the workers’ welfare is taken care of. They would have proof whether their employers had paid their monthly salary. Having a bank account will also expedite remittance, as they can just wire the money online,” said Zahid.

With Indonesians making up close to 40 per cent of foreigners working in the country, Zahid said there was a need for the country to continue using foreign labour. “The plantation, construction and service sectors may collapse if they do not have foreign workers.”

"I was so excited, I could not sleep."

It's not everyday a business journalist gets invited to restaurant openings. So, when I was assigned to cover the opening of the first outlet of the world's famous dim sum restaurateur Tim Ho Wan in Malaysia, I grinned ear-to-ear.

There are 25 items in Tim Ho Wan's menu. Journalists were presented with must-try classics like prawn dumplings (har gau in Cantonese), steamed beef balls and steamed rice rolls (cheung fun in Cantonese) — all of which were sampled along with the famed baked BBQ pork bun, steamed sticky rice with beef, pan-fried egg and deep fried bean curd sheet roll.

Another journalist from Malaysia's chinese language newspaper Sin Chew Jit Poh sat next to me. He noted Tim Ho Wan offers what one can expect dim sum in its purest form to be -- succulent prawns, silky smooth noodle skins, tender and textured beef.

He confessed to me. "I was so excited, I could not sleep last night when my editor assigned me to cover Tim Ho Wan." I stared at him wide-eyed and thought to myself, "Eee ... this guy is so over-the-top."

He instructed me to try the baked BBQ pork bun. I did so obediently. 

One bite into the masterfully crafted golden-skinned pork bun, I realised what he meant. It was absolutely lip-smacking delicious. Mmmm

“Making dim sum isn’t easy," Tim Ho Wan founder Chef Mak Kwai Pu reportedly said. 

“There are many factors that can influence the taste. Take the BBQ pork buns - even the weather can affect the outcome,” said the chef who has mastered the art of dim sum for more than 35 years. He picked up the craft at the tender age of 15.

He explained how higher external temperatures can hasten the process of fermentation, making it easier for baked buns to turn sour in hot weather.

The finer points of making dim sum take years to learn. Each piece of dim sum is about handiwork - thick is easy, but thin is exact. "You really have to have an eye for this sort of thing.”

Chef Mak is skilled in the different areas of dim sum - frying, steaming, creating the fillings, making dough wrappings for dumplings, and making rice noodle rolls. “I would master one thing,” he recalled, “and then I’d have start back at the bottom to learn the next thing.”

“My own standards are: you cannot slack, it has to be neat and tidy, have the correct shape, and you can’t leave sloppy dough that stick on bamboo containers,” he told reporters.

Although Tim Ho Wan is non-halal, most of its dim sum offerings are prepared with palm oil. 

Dim sum lovers can take delight as the selections are affordable, with prices ranging from RM7.80 to RM12.80, and the portions are hearty.

In recent years, Hong Kong-based Tim Ho Wan has ventured overseas to Singapore, Taipei, Hanoi, Manila and now — Kuala Lumpur. As the world's cheapest Michelin-starred restaurateur, Tim Ho Wan is known for its no frills and no reservations concept.

Much of Tim Ho Wan’s allure is credited to its ingredients prepared fresh and from scratch upon every order. That's why there is always a long queue of patient patrons waiting to tuck-in their favourite dim sum.

"Employers should have been prepared"

KUALA LUMPUR: MORE than 500,000 foreign workers temporarily legalised under the 6P programme must return to their home countries next month and observe the compulsory 6-month cooling-off period before they can return to Malaysia.

Adopting a firm stance on the issue, the government has chided employers for not taking proactive measures to prepare for the “exodus”, despite being aware of the situation since 2011.

Immigration Department deputy director-general (operations) Datuk Sakib Kusmi said those with temporary work visit passes under the temporary Registration, Legalisation, Amnesty, Supervision, Enforcement and Deportation programme (abbreviated in Bahasa Malaysia to 6P) must honour the understanding agreed upon in 2011.

Under the 6P programme, illegal foreign workers in food and beverage sector were issued temporary work visiting passes lasting two years, while those working in manufacturing, construction and plantations received three years.

If the foreigners did not leave by January 2015, they would be deemed as having overstayed and could be arrested under Section 15(1)C of the Immigration Act.

“We are aware that there are some who are still living here with expired documents, but our policy is clear. If caught, they will be brought to court and jailed or be forced to pay a compound,” he said.

After paying the compound or completing their jail time, they would be held at the Immigration depot before they were put on a flight back to their home country.

Sakib said they could return to Malaysia for work after observing the cooling-off period of between six months and a year.

“The government believes it is actually better for the foreign workers to undergo the cooling-off period before returning. Employers should not be afraid of this because this is not something new, they already knew this beforehand,” he told the New Straits Times.

He said the government did not want the foreigners to remain in Malaysia continuously for more than five years, as they could then request for permanent resident status, with all the benefits provided to citizens.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said employers are aware they need to send these foreign workers back to their home countries after their temporary work visit passes expired.

“Many employers had legalised their illegal workers during the 6P programme and were given temporary work visit passes in 2011. They already knew their workers would need to be sent home within three years after the agreement," the deputy minister said, adding the government is standing its ground on this policy.

The 6P Programme, implemented in August 2011 by the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers, is aimed to reduce the number of illegal immigrants entering the country or those overstaying their work permits.

Yesterday, Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan cautioned that failure to extend the foreigners’ work permits would lead to the recruitment of unskilled workers to replace them, causing discontinuity and avoidable delay in economic activities in key industries. 


KUALA LUMPUR: Extending the work permits of foreign workers beyond the 6P programme deadline would only lead to more problems, said Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs).

Cuepacs president Datuk Azih Muda disagreed with extending foreign workers' permits as it would be counter-productive in efforts to reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign workers.

“I hope employers and industry leaders will understand this effort, as this concerns the future of our nation. 

"With foreign workers taking over many jobs in all economic sectors, they would make it difficult for locals to get better-paid positions in future.”

Azih was commenting on the New Straits Times’ front-page article yesterday, which reported that around 500,000 foreign workers would have to leave Malaysia when their work permits expire in January 2015, as part of the 6P programme.

The Malaysian Employers’ Federation cautioned the impending loss of these workers would cause severe manpower shortage and disruption in key economic activity flow, thus resulting in businesses to become less competitive.

Malayan Agricultural Producers Association executive director Mohamad Audong said the agriculture and plantation sector needed foreign labour, failing which, companies in the sector would ground to a halt.

Locals, he said, were not interested in working in the sector. This had led to the reliance on foreigners to handle difficult tasks, such as harvesting and processing.

“If the government were to send back these foreign workers, it would cause employers to go one step back by hiring new foreign employees to fill the vacancies. These new employees will require training. The cost of hiring new people and training them will be very costly.”

“The foreign workers are already here. The government could just issue them new documentation to enable them to continue to work. Let them work and monitor them from time to time.”

Asked about the possibility of re-hiring these batch of foreign workers once they complete the mandatory six month cooling-off period in their respective home countries, Cuepacs' Azih said employers would not be able to wait that long.

He said companies in the agriculture sector were mostly government-linked companies and would not take a chance by waiting for the cooling-off period to end, as the workers could be snapped up by other companies once they return to their home countries.

Gloomy outlook as 6P foreign workers go home

PETALING JAYA: ECONOMIC growth for 2015 could be affected when the estimated 500,000 foreign workers registered under the 6P programme return to their countries next month.

Malaysian Employers Federation executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan, in painting a bleak picture, yesterday said failure to extend the work permits of these foreigners and allow them to continue working in the country would lead to the recruitment of unskilled workers to replace them.

In August 2011, the Cabinet Committee on Foreign Workers implemented the 6P programme to reduce the number of illegal immigrants who entered the country illegally or overstayed their work permits.

Under the Registration, Legalisation, Amnesty, Supervision, Enforcement and Deportation programme (abbreviated in Bahasa Malaysia to 6P), illegal foreign workers were required to register with the Home Ministry and had their fingerprints recorded in a biometric system.

After the registration, the foreign workers were issued work permits until January next year and allowed to return to their jobs.

Shamsuddin said it took between six and nine months to bring in new foreign workers, and employers would have to spend more money to retrain them.

“This will affect next year’s economic growth if this matter is not handled in a positive and decisive manner,” he told the New Straits Times yesterday.

He said uncertainty over the matter or if the government refused renew their permits could result in a large number of foreign workers working illegally.

Those who do not leave Malaysia by January 2015 will become illegal. According to official data, 2.5 million foreign workers are registered with the government. 

“From that total, an estimated 500,000 are registered under the 6P programme, which expires in early 2015. These workers are in the manufacturing, construction, plantation, agriculture, and the food and beverage sectors.”

Shamsuddin said a delay in renewing the work permits could cause a lot of disruption to businesses, as time was money. “Construction projects that are not delivered on time will face heavy penalties and disruption in their financing.” 

Shamsuddin added that the country’s palm oil output and export earnings in the coming year would be affected if there were not enough foreign workers to harvest oil palm fruits.

He said vegetable prices could also see a spike if farm owners could not renew their foreign workers’ permits on time.

Two days ago, Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz announced that the economy was likely to remain on a “steady growth path”, at between 5.5 per cent and 6 per cent this year, driven by resilient domestic demand.

She also forecast that next year, the Malaysian economy was likely to expand between five and six per cent.

FGV plans commodity trade tie-up in China

KUALA LUMPUR: FELDA Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) is set to mark a new foray into China by collaborating with Shenzhen Agricultural Products Co Ltd (SZAP), an agri-business trading company.

The partnership will jointly explore opportunities in various commodities, including rubber and palm oil, said FGV group president and chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Emir Mavani Abdullah.

Shenzen-based SZAP specialises in the business of e-commerce and supply chain services in agricultural products.

“As the world’s largest trading powerhouse, China continues to be a destination market for FGV,” Mohd Emir said in a statement yesterday. “We look forward to working with SZAP to provide greater accessibility of our products to consumers in China amid growing demand,” he added.

In enhancing its downstream activities, FGV had previously formed partnerships to explore business operations in China. “Through our subsidiary, Felda Global Ventures Biotechnologies Sdn Bhd, we delivered shipments of palm methyl ester to Nansha Port in Guangzhou in response to China’s growing interest in renewable energy.

“With the many available opportunities, we look forward to collaborate further with business partners keen on working with us,” Mohd Emir added.

FGV noted that its business expansion into China is in line with Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s recent visit to the country. It is aimed at enhancing Malaysia-China ties and the two-way trade target of US$160 billion (or RM528 billion) by 2017.

The strategic move is part of FGV’s long-term growth plans  towards becoming as one of the leading global agri-business companies by 2020, Mohd Emir said.

Australia's No.1 rapeseed client is the EU

This is written by Peter Elliot of Australian Export Grains Innovation Centre four months ago. It can be sourced from

Australia's No.1 rapeseed client is the EU
15 Aug 2014

The European Union growing biodiesel market, in recent years, has given a boost to Australia’s canola exports. The EU-28 buys about 1.35 million tonnes of canola per annum, making up 62 per cent of Australia’s 2.12 million tonnes total annual exports.

Where does Australian canola mainly go to?

The bulk of Australia’s canola exports to Europe go into the major ports of Rotterdam (in the Netherlands), Hamburg (in Germany) and Gent (in Belgium).  However occasionally Australian canola is subsequently loaded on smaller vessels and shipped to customers in countries such as Finland, who can only take small quantities at one time or to ports which are unable to be serviced by large (30,000-60,000t) vessels.

Who are the main buyers? 
The main buyers of Australian canola in Europe are ADM (Archer Daniels Midland), Cargill, Glencore and Saipol/Diester.

What is Australian canola used for in Europe?
About 70 per cent of the canola demand in Europe is for biodiesel, with the remainder is used for food purposes mainly cooking oil.

Why has demand for Australian canola in Europe grown so strongly in the past five years?
Since 2009, the EU government implemented the Renewable Energy Directive (RED), which set targets and subsidies for plant-based fuel. The subsidy has made it competitive for Australia to produce biodiesel that meets the requirements of the RED.

The EU government requires growers to be accredited at First Hand Gathering Point by trading houses in Australia like Cargill, Glencore, CBH Group or Graincorp. Cargo surveyor SGS will then audit the rapeseed farming operation to ensure RED's criteria are complied with.  

Inter-cropping helps biodiversity conservation

KUALA LUMPUR: Besides generating income for farmers, the inter-cropping of vegetables and herbs between rows of newly-planted oil palms, contributes to biodiversity conservation.

“Inter-cropping cash crops with oil palms and rubber can diversify food nutrition for humans and enhance soil fertility for crop health,” said Crops For the Future (CFF) research centre theme leader, Professor Soh Aik Chin, on the sidelines of an inter-cropping seminar, here, recently. 

There is little awareness that current human nutrition depends on a very limited number of crops. He also noted while some literature exists on companion planting, there is scarce data on using the functional diversity of plants in an inter-cropping system. 

“We want to find out the ideal inter-cropping formula that would improve yields of the main crop and contribute to biodiversity in the plantation system at the same time,” Soh said.

CFF is an international body dedicated to neglected and underutilised crops. It is a joint venture hosted in Malaysia by the University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus, and the Malaysian government.

“Research literature have shown that biodiversity in a natural ecosystem increases total plant productivity,” Walker said. “The combined species use the resources available to them in a more efficient way by avoiding intra-species competition. We want to pick vegetables and herbs that are suitable." 

"We want to choose crops that won’t compete against each other. In the interest of nutrition security, we want to find out combinations that will  bring about a multitude of symbiotic benefits,” she said. 

As of now, legumes are extensively planted at oil palm estates for a dual role of preventing soil erosion and as nitrogen fixers. Flowering plants such as Turnera subulata, Cassia  cobanensis and Antigonon leptopus are also planted to play host to beneficial pollination insects. 

The breeding of barn owls are also encouraged at the estates as they are natural predators of rats and snakes.

Ong said research on various inter-cropping combinations are needed to see how plants and trees interact and to determine what happens in the soil.

This sustainable agriculture initiative is based on the balanced needs of people, planet and profits. “We’re looking into the most sustainable cropping system  to help ease poverty by enhancing food security through more optimum land management and soil conservation,” he said.

FGV set to triple biodiesel production by 2016

This is written by my colleague Zarina Zakariah.

KUALA LUMPUR: Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) aims to be the world’s leader in palm biodiesel by tripling its production capacity to 350,000 tonnes a year by 2016.

FGV with 100,000 tonnes annual capacity is now the country’s largest biodiesel exporter following its US$47.5 million (or RM165.3 million) purchase of the Kuantan biodiesel plant.

“We’re looking to triple our capacity by 2016. That would include using new technologies that will make us the lowest cost producer in Malaysia. 

"That is our target,” said group president and chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Emir Mavani Abdullah, after launching B30 biodiesel fuel for three of the group's whole fleet of trucks here yesterday.

The B30 blend comprises 30 per cent of palm oil-based methyl ester (PME) and 70 per cent regular diesel.

“By becoming the first Malaysian company to test a biodiesel blend that is more than four times higher than the B7 biodiesel mandated by the government, we've proven our willingness to go above and beyond national standards.”

“We plan to have all 450 of our trucks running on biodiesel by 2016,” said Wira Adam.

FGV palm downstream cluster head of processing Wira Adam said, “The price of crude oil has plummeted recently but we see it as an opportunity once the crude oil gains its momentum again. We are looking to expand capacity by using new technologies to become the lowest cost producer in Malaysia.” 

“Our biodiesel production can be boosted by tolling with several suppliers,” he said.

On market demand for biodiesel, Wira said Europe and the United States consume about 12 million and six million tonnes a year, respectively.

“Although the US is quite protective of its market compared with Europe, we hope to use the feedstock, which will be produced by our new plant to penetrate its market.

“We have not received any bad feedback from Europe and we will continue to supply biodiesel there,” Wira added.

Malaysia refutes false allegations of child labour

KUALA LUMPUR: The Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry refutes false allegations of child labour or forced labour in the palm oil industry.

In a statement yesterday, the ministry responded to the United States Department of Labour Report 2014 naming Malaysia as one of the countries practising child labour and forced labour in the palm oil industry.

The government has made it clear that Malaysia does not condone any act of forced labour or child labour.

"The palm oil industry is one of the most highly regulated industries in the country. We view the US government's allegations and findings seriously," it said in a statement.

The palm oil industry is subscribing to more than 60 laws and regulations, including those pertaining to labour practices.

In reference to a six-month survey on the labour situation in Malaysian oil palm plantations, completed in June 2014, the ministry noted the palm oil industry places great importance to its human resources and has taken conscientious effort to ensure workers' welfare is adequately taken care of.

This comprehensive study was based on International Labour Organisation guidelines. It covered workers, employers and labour contractors across 68 oil palm plantations and smallholdings. A total of 1,632 workers in Selangor, Perak, Johor, Pahang, Sabah and Sarawak were interviewed -- without the presence of their employers.

This study concluded there was no systematic condition of forced labour in the industry. Only 0.4 per cent of the total respondents’ employers withheld the passports of foreign workers.

In Sabah, this study revealed some of the children of foreign workers accompanied their parents to work because of the lack of supervision at home. Even then, the children are only allowed to do so after school hours, on weekends or during school holidays. They usually assist their parents in simple tasks, such as collecting loose fruit.

The study also highlighted there is an active labour market in the oil palm plantations and foreign workers could find alternative work.

The Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry said it will continue to collaborate with other ministries and agencies to strengthen labour laws and regulations in the industry. “The government monitors labour issues in the oil palm industry. We take necessary actions, should there be such issues occurring.”

NASH: Belgium's illegal food labelling defame palm oil

KUALA LUMPUR: National Association of Smallholders (Nash), which represents thousands of small farmers in Malaysia, has slammed Belgium for its illegal and defamatory “No Palm Oil” labelling on packaged foods and beverages, which is hurting oil palm planters’ livelihoods.

“We strongly reject Belgium’s illegal campaign against palm oil. We urge the Belgian government to issue a directive to stop the usage of this defamatory and illegal ‘No Palm Oil’ labels on their packaged foodstuff and in their stores,” said Nash secretary-general Zulkifli Mohd Nazim.

Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Didier Reynders, who was in Malaysia last week, reportedly said the palm oil industry has sustainable practices, with good social conditions for workers, along with hospitals and schools for children in the rural areas.

“Reynders acknowledged the palm oil industry is operating sustainably, yet he remained silent on the illegality of the ‘No Palm Oil’ labels. It is disappointing ... he is not walking his talk,” said Zulkifli.

From December 13 onwards, the new European Union (EU) Food Information for Consumers Regulation (FIC) requires palm oil to be listed as an ingredient.

“We acknowledge this FIC regulation, but we reject the ‘No Palm Oil’ defamatory connotation in front-of-pack labels,” said Zulkifli.

“Given the lack of scientific evidence that palm oil consumption is bad for health, it is wrong for food manufacturers to go on using the ‘No Palm Oil’ labels. The Belgian government is conflating the illegal labels with the FIC regulation,” he said.

These discriminatory labels, which is promoted by chocolate maker Galler and supermarket chain Delhaize, is harming the livelihoods of oil palm farmers across Malaysia, Indonesia and Africa, he said.

Zulkifli noted the validity of the “No Palm Oil” label can be challenged under the EU Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (French Consumer Code Articles L-121-1- to L121-7) because this misleading labelling creates mistrust in the minds of consumers, and therefore, unfair to commercial practice.

“Scientists in France and across the world acknowledge that palm oil is a healthy part of a balanced diet, with its many nutritional attributes. Palm oil is all natural and does not contain any harmful trans fats,” he said.

This is written by Caroline Scott-Thomas on 3 Dec 2014 and can be sourced from

'No Palm Oil’ food labels in EU could face legal challenge

PARIS, FRANCE: Food manufacturers and palm oil producers could have a legal case against companies labelling products ‘No Palm Oil’, according to Paris-based lawyer Anne Bourdu.

Bourdu, who works with Paris legal firm LEXT was asked to look into the legality of 'No Palm Oil' labelling for a meeting organised by Food Facts in June 2014. She replied such labelling could legally be challenged under both French and EU laws.

"My legal opinion is that it interests all producers of palm oil and all manufacturers of products that contain palm oil," she told FoodNavigator. In particular, she cites EU regulation No 1169/2011, which stated food information shall not be misleading.

"By suggesting that the food possesses special characteristics when, in fact, all similar foods possess such characteristics, in particular by specifically emphasising the presence or absence of certain ingredient and/or nutrients." With this in mind, Bourdu said, the usage of 'No Palm Oil' labelling is "unacceptable from a regulatory point of view."

"I am personally in favour of giving the most information to the consumer as possible, not only with safety standards but also how products are manufactured. That may also be a political choice for consumers to choose a 'green' product," she said.

She said food companies should instead highlight their use of sustainable palm oil or explain on-pack why they had chosen the specific vegetable oil in their product.

Bourdu insists that labelling something 'No Palm Oil' is different from labelling it 'No Additives' or 'No Preservative'."The difference, to me, is that palm oil is a raw material rather than an additive," she said.

International law firm Hogan Lovells concurred that palm oil is different from artificial colours or preservatives because it is not an additive.

In reviewing legal remedies in Belgium and France, Hogan Lowells say that companies using 'No Palm Oil' labels would need to justify it. "It may be useful to know the identity of the oil in a product," it said.

"However, in the absence of evidence that a specific oil represents a risk to consumer health, inclusion of 'No Palm Oil' front-labelling unfairly singles out palm oil and emphasises the absence of palm oil in the packaged food as telling the consumer more than mere information concerning the type of oil used," it added.

The Kings of Oil and Grain

This is written by Nikita Kabanovs, two months ago, and can be sourced from

Silence Is the Sound of Money Talking. How else can you explain the fact that successful companies earning billions of dollars per year and employing relatively small groups of people across the globe are pretty much unknown to the general public? 

Ladies and gentlemen, let's get to know the names of the world's largest Commodity Trading Firms.

What do the top 10 commodity trading firms have in common? Good profits and offices in Switzerland and Netherlands (one for tax, the other for a well known harbour in Rotterdam and operations there).

The top trading firms have very different businesses. While some are active in upstream operations, others are active only in mid- and downstream operations. Some specialise in oil, gas and other energy resources trading, others are focused on edible agricultural produce. 

Some made their billions by concentrating on a handful of businesses, while others trade everything under the sun from iron ore to coffee beans. Below is the list of the kings of oil and grain:

1. Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), based in Decatur, Illinois. Specialises in grains, especially corn and oilseeds producing biofuels such as bioethanol (sugarcane) and biodiesel (rapeseed, soybeans), cocoa beans (produce chocolate) and other niche products. In December 2014, ADM paid US$147 million to tighten its grip on the world's biggest palm oil trader Wilmar International to 17.3 per cent from 16.4 per cent. Wilmar is listed on the Singapore stock exchange.

2. Bunge, based in St.Louis and stands next to ADM. Operates in agribusiness (all type of products), food additives and animal feeds.

3. Cargill, based in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Some say they are the most powerful agricultural trader. Trades all possible products, and has quite some trading operations in energy sector. Some trading in energy means it is small relatively to the company size but they still can make some deals worth hundreds of millions.

4. Dreyfus, based in Paris, France. Another huge agri-trader, specially active in cotton trading. According to the forum discussion on WSO forum, I found Dreyfus is “still the remaining owner of pipelines from the French Colonial Era!”

5. Vitol Switzerland, probably the largest oil trader. A deal worth US$10 billion to buy oil from Rosneft? “Give me two!” – that is Vitol’s answer.

6. Glencore Switzerland, a giant that got huge after first becoming public and they merging with Xstrata. Now it is a trader with large vertical integration in metals. Comparable to BHP Billiton.

7. Trafigura Switzerland, another major oil trader. Full of tasty deals worth billions with major traders in the CIS, Latin America, Africa, Middle-East and Asia.

8. Gunvor Switzerland, here he is. Trades quite a variety of products but the majority of operations takes place in oil markets. Moves largest oil tankers in the world across the globe to buy/sell oil.

9. Noble Hong Kong, a rising star but already worth billions. Active in metals, oil, gas, coal, cotton and other agriculture. Relatively smaller than first 8 traders but still of a decent size or deliver to their refinery to further process it and sell petrol.

10. Mercuria Switzerland, another rising star. Mainly trades oil and recently acquired JP Morgan’s physical commodity trading desk for US$3.5 billion. Not bad for a rising star, isn’t it?

What is particularly interesting about these firms is how lean they are run, which of course means a bigger share of profits to go around for the employees. For example Vitol and Glencore only have a staff of 2,700 people each, but their revenues were US$195 billion and US$145 billion, respectively.

The commodity trading firms will always be around as everyone in the world needs to eat and heat their houses. Recently, laws were proposed in the United States to limit certain types of commodity trading, primarily speculation but it affected banks only. Moreover, these guys are not in the U.S. except for ADM and Cargill who are quite heavy lobbyist in their home country.

Where are rapeseed grown and its oil exported to?

The news reports below on the global rapeseed output and the exports of canola are written by Sean Pratt. They are sourced from

Dip in EU oilseed output could spur Canada’s exports
7th Nov 2014
By Sean Pratt

The International Grains Council (IGC) is forecasting declining winter rapeseed production in the European Union and Ukraine.

It could mean Europe will have to import more Australian canola next year, which would allow Canada to export more to China.

The council estimates EU plantings will fall by four per cent to 16 million acres, the lowest level since 2012-13. “Farmers are discouraged from sowing due to low prices and reduced profitability, while new EU farm subsidy rules under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) have rendered other crops relatively more attractive,” said the council in its October 2014 summary.

Yields are expected to be down because of dry seeding conditions in major production regions.

An EU ban on neonicotinoid pesticides is also expected to diminish yields because of high levels of insect damage in Germany and the United Kingdom, two of the EU’s top rapeseed producing countries. “Next year’s EU crop is likely to be significantly smaller,” said the council.

The EU is the world’s biggest producer of rapeseed-canola and the second largest exporter of the crop behind Canada.

Ukraine is also a major exporter. Its winter crop typically accounts for 95 per cent of the country’s total rapeseed production.

The council is forecasting 2.12 million acres will be planted in Ukraine, down nine per cent from last year’s plantings and 25 per cent below the previous five-year average.

“This is a continuation of the steady downward trend of recent seasons and reflects a gradual switch to spring-sown crops, which are less prone to damage from adverse weather,” said the council.

Yields are expected to be down as well because of reduced application of inputs caused by poor credit availability associated with the ongoing conflict with Russia. “Output is seen falling markedly year-on-year,” said the council.

That’s all good news for Canadian canola growers, said Chuck Penner, an analyst with LeftField Commodity Research. Most of Ukraine’s rapeseed is grown in the west, far away from the political turmoil in the east, but he agreed that yields will be down because of a lack of inputs.

Penner said Stratégie Grains is also forecasting a small contraction in EU rapeseed acreage. The best guess at this stage is for normal yields, which would be down from terrific yields in 2014-15.

“That will be positive. That would mean that Europe would probably start to buy more again from Australia, so then Australia stops exporting so much to China and then it helps our business,” said Penner.

Australia is expected to harvest a smaller canola crop. The Australian Oilseeds Federation estimates 3.65 million tonnes of production, down from 3.9 million tonnes in 2013-14. There has been poor winter rainfall in the core growing regions of southern New South Wales, central Victoria, the Wimmera districts and South Australia.

The IGC said plantings in Belarus are estimated at 988,000 acres, unchanged from last year. Over at Russia, its rapeseed crop is largely planted in spring.

The seven-year rich
21st Nov 2014
By Sean Pratt

The national voice for Canada’s canola industry knows nothing about a company that signed a C$1 billion deal to ship Canadian canola oil to China.

Canadian Prime minister Stephen Harper and federal agriculture minister Gerry Ritz recently returned from a trade mission to China, where they witnessed LeMine Investment Group sign an agreement to ship C$1 billion of canola oil to China over the next seven years.

LeMine is an Ontario condominium developer that appears to have come out of nowhere to become one of the largest suppliers of Canadian canola oil to the second largest buyer of the product behind the United States.

“I don’t know anything about this company or this specific transaction,” said Patti Miller, president of the Canola Council of Canada.

She said the council doesn’t get involved in commercial transactions, but it seems odd that the national voice for the canola industry has never heard of a company that will be exporting such an amount of oil.

“Just because we’re not aware of somebody’s involvement doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a strange deal, but I don’t know who they are,” said Miller.

To put the deal in perspective, Canada’s entire canola oil export program to China last year was 885,180 tonnes, worth C$1.06 billion. “China is one of our most important customers and this agreement ensures that they will continue to be a very promising and consistent market,” said Miller.

LeMine was contacted for this story but the company’s senior executives were in China and unable to comment. The company intends to host a news conference in Toronto in early December to discuss the deal.

LeMine provided a translated version of a Chinese news release about the deal. It was scant on details but said the deal is between LeMine and Guizhou Fengguan Group.

The Canadian canola oil will be sold through Guizhou Fengguan Group’s 416 Walmart supermarkets and 746 Fengguan Home Shops in China.

Miller was also excited about the establishment of the China-Canada Economic and Financial Strategic Dialogue, which will deepen trade and investment between the two countries. “This is a helpful step towards increased economic co-operation that could facilitate better market access for Canadian canola,” she said.

Miller said it is nice to have a regular forum involving senior government officials where the canola industry can raise ongoing market access and trade policy issues, such as China’s modernisation of its food and feed safety regulations and its certification of Canadian processing plants and products.

In the meantime, Canadian canola and other oil could be facing market access issues in India. Reuters reported India’s food ministry wants to double the import tax on crude edible oils to five per cent and boost the tax on refined oils to 15 per cent from 10 per cent.

The ministry is waiting for feedback on the proposal from other ministries before sending it to cabinet for approval.

“If that is something that is being considered actively in India, then it’s something we would want to talk with our government about and try to make changes there,” said Miller.

India is not a big buyer of Canadian canola oil, but the council thinks it could become one.

India is the world’s largest importer of vegetable oil, mostly palm, soybean and sunflower oil. However, the council believes there will be a growing market for healthier oil because of the rapidly expanding middle class and the high rates of coronary disease.

The truth shall prevail

Ladies and gentlemen, there is nothing wrong with caring for the environment.

What is wrong is when environmental activism spread half truths and twisted lies to vehemently attack the palm oil industry, which is a vital part of the Malaysian economy.

For all the pretense of loving Mother Nature, many environmental activists celebrate inaction. 

Don’t expand oil palm estates, don’t create and don’t do. Turn off the lights and feel good about doing nothing.

Each act of undoing and unmaking becomes a profoundly "environment friendly" activity. 

These green activists, who make a living of purveying half truths, like to target vicious hostility at those who choose not to be taken in by their wolf cries.

Turn out the lights and let us imagine a world free of all pollution; whether it is smelly human fart, cow belching or the exhaust smoke from the millions of cars stuck in the gridlock traffic jam of Kuala Lumpur.

Green activists regularly engage in attention-grabbing stunts from flying celebrities around the world on jet planes to releasing thousands of lanterns into the sky.

These cool-looking celebrities tell us to turn off the lights, become vegetarian, make do with less. 

There are clever advertisement campaigns and catchy tunes to go along with it, too. 

It is sensational and often makes headlines in the news.

This movement wraps itself in the cloak of science but in reality, is emotional and rooted in hatred for economic development.

The environmental movement is tenacious, fanatical and deceptive. Its creed is the undoing of all human progress. Ironically, there is big money to be made from that.

Attention seeking stunts have always and will continue to be the main thrust of these environmental activism. 

Does it make the world a better place or does it make people feel guilty, confused and fearful?

What makes it a hypocrisy is that these green activists ― at the behest of their paymasters ― ruthlessly bully oil palm companies into surrendering to manifestos that siphon away deserving dividends of the palm oil prosperity from the average Malaysian investor. 

It is just a matter of time the long arm of the law will catch up with these underhanded manoeuvrings and put the mercenaries and their friendly-looking informants in their rightful place. The truth shall prevail. 

Unlike fat-salaried green activists, journalists are usually lowly paid. As the years go by, it can be easy and tempting for reporters or even editors to become blasé and indifferent. 

Copy-and-paste is usually the first stage of learning a subject matter. Voice and video recordings are back-up tools. It is only when the reporter makes that time and effort to understand and reason why things are the way it is, one can say ... he is delivering and is relevant to the audience. 

This blog posting is dedicated to all the straight-talking people out there. You know who you are. In your overcoming fear of retribution, faith in the truth can be restored.

Interview de Wilfried Huismann from FIGRA on Vimeo.

Apart from Wilfried Huismann, there are other courageous journalists in Europe who repeatedly face adversity and setbacks to find out what the high taxes paid by their citizens is being used for.

Below is a 6-minute documentary by Jack Thurston, co-founder of , led by a group of European journalists, bent on identifying and tracking the €55 billion a year Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) subsidies going to "farmers".

Among financial institutions and food giants, classified as "farmers" (because they are landowners) and receiving direct subsidy amounting to hundreds of million euros under the CAP are Rabobank, ING Bank, HSBC Bank, Deutsche Bank, Nestle, Unilever, Danone and Friesland Foods.

The EU farm subsidies is not limited to European multi-nationals. American multi-nationals like Archer Daniels Midland (a major shareholder in Singapore stock exchange-listed Wilmar International), Bunge, Cargill, Kraft Foods, which are seen as "farmers" in the EU, also receive hundreds of millions euros in subsidies under the CAP.

Rapeseed and sunflower farmers (or rather landowners) in the EU receive billions of euro dollars in subsidies to plant their crops. Over in Malaysia, oil palm planters have to pay a slew of taxes imposed by both the federal and state governments.

Oilseed farmers in the EU, rivals of oil palm farmers in Malaysia and Indonesia, are big recipients of CAP subsidies from the EU government. Incidentally, the EU government have been handing out money to green activists as well.

This same pair of generous hands handing out subsidies to its "farmers" and grants to its green activists will also be signing on the dotted line of the EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Malaysia.

In view of this, it is the rightful duty of Malaysia's lawmakers and policy makers to lend their ears to the oil palm planters and do the needful.

Similarly, oil palm planters must unite and adapt to the fast-changing world of ruthless vegetable oil politics, if they want to remain relevant in this market.

It's pertinent for oil palm planters to be aware that the EU's farm and export subsidies to their farmers (or rather landowners) and food companies and the EU government's FTA negotiation with developing nations are actually two sides of the same coin.