Growing tensions between Asian palm oil producers and the European Union


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Malaysia on Thursday said it could stop exports to the European Union in response to a new law the EU says is aimed at protecting forests by restricting palm oil imports.

The EU has in recent years imposed several rules to regulate palm imports after concluding its cultivation results in excessive deforestation, raising an outcry from top producers Indonesia and Malaysia.

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Here is a timeline of the rising tensions between the Asian palm oil producers and the EU over the matter.

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APRIL 5, 2017

Malaysia raises its concern after EU lawmakers call for greater vetting of palm and other vegetable oils used in biofuels to prevent the bloc’s post-2020 renewable transport targets from contributing to deforestation.

JUNE 14, 2017

EU negotiators agree to phase out the use of palm oil in transport fuels from 2030. Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, which produce the majority of palm oil imported into Europe, had warned earlier that they would retaliate against what they called protectionist measures, if a ban was introduced.

NOV 3, 2017

Indonesia says it could block milk powder imports from the EU if the bloc pushed forward with a resolution to restrict imports of palm oil.

APRIL 16, 2018

British supermarket chain Iceland says it would remove palm oil from its own-brand food products due to concerns over rainforest destruction. The Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC), led by Indonesia and Malaysia, says claims made by Iceland misled consumers on the environmental benefits of other vegetable oils.

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MARCH 13, 2019

The European Commission concludes that palm oil cultivation results in excessive deforestation and the use of harmful biofuel feedstocks, including palm oil, should be capped until 2023 and phased out by 2030.

DEC 16, 2019

Indonesia files a lawsuit at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the EU, claiming the bloc’s restrictions on palm oil-based biofuel were unfair.

FEB 7, 2020

Indonesia and Malaysia accuse the EU of discriminating against palm oil under a plan to impose new limits on levels of food contaminants known as 3-MCPD esters found in refined oils and fats. The CPOPC questions the EU’s decision to impose a lower limit for palm oil compared to other vegetable oils.

JULY 17, 2020

The CPOPC offers to work with the European Commission to draft rules for the EU’s “Farm to Fork” food supply policy aimed at creating a sustainable supply chain.

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JAN 19, 2021

Malaysia files a WTO complaint against the EU and its member states France and Lithuania for restricting palm oil-based biofuels.

DEC 6, 2022

The EU agrees on a new regulation which bans the sale of palm oil and other commodities linked to deforestation unless importers can show that production of their specific goods has not damaged forests.

JAN 9, 2023

Indonesian and Malaysia agree to work together and strengthen cooperation to fight discrimination against palm oil.

JAN 12, 2023

Malaysia says it could stop exporting palm oil to the EU in response to the new deforestation regulation announced in December. EU’s ambassador to Malaysia says the bloc is not banning any imports of palm oil from the country and that the law applies equally to commodities produced anywhere, including in EU member states. (Reporting by Matthew Chye; Editing by Mei Mei Chu and Tom Hogue)



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