2nd appeal against Aussie Bill

This is written by my colleague Rupa Damodaran.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian palm oil industry yesterday made a second appeal to the Australian Parliament not to go ahead with its proposed palm oil labelling Bill.

The legislation will not only undermine a central pillar of the Malaysian economy but would also be a sharp reversal from years of liberalised trade between both economies.

Malaysian Palm Oil Council CEO Tan Sri Yusof Basiron said the Bill would threaten the future of the industry, not just palm oil producers. "It will punish our farmers with an indirect trade barrier, even though the alleged deforestation or orang-utan habitat destruction - the mitigation of which is the prime objective of this Bill - are nothing but non-government organisation (NGO) myths," he said.

He was making a presentation before a public hearing of the Australian House Standing Committee on Economics to provide testimony and answer questions regarding the Food Standards Amendment (Truth in Labelling - Palm Oil) Bill 2010.

Palm oil has raised hundreds of thousands of small producers from poverty and provides them and their families a sound future, education and a better standard of living.

This is the second time Yusof is presenting Malaysia's case to the Australian legislators.

In April, Malaysia successfully raised its objection to the legislation, saying it is based on misleading claims and aimed at harming its largest agricultural export - palm oil. Although the Community Affairs Legislative Committee recommended that the Bill not be passed, the Australian Senate chose to go ahead, and it is now being brought to the House of Representatives before it is passed as a law.

Malaysia recently completed a high-level ministerial, parliamentary and industry visit to Australia, led by Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, to Victoria and the New South Wales to address the many misconceptions being spread about the palm oil industry.

"We believe, regretfully, that this Bill is targeted at Malaysian palm oil, because of the two major countries capable of supplying palm oil, Australia chooses to import almost 100 per cent of its palm oil from Malaysia."

He also noted that the Bill has been significantly expanded to include any food and non-food products containing or made with the use of palm oil or any of its by-products, making it no longer appropriate to be considered a "food labelling" Bill.

Yusof told the committee that the proposed law violates several principles of the WTO as well as terms of the Asean-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement. "Claims of the imminent extinction of the orang-utan are without merit and also ignore efforts in Malaysia to preserve the lives and habitats of the country's 16,000 orangutans, through the establishment of wildlife sanctuaries, megawildlife preserves and rehabilitation centres for displaced orang-utans."

One Response to 2nd appeal against Aussie Bill

  1. " It will punish our farmers with an indirect trade barrier, even though the alleged deforestation or orang-utan habitat destruction - the mitigation of which is the prime objective of this Bill - are nothing but non-government organisation (NGO) myths"
    Classifieds Malaysia

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