Kuala Lumpur (15 June 2016) – The Malaysian Palm Oil Council condemns the French National Assembly MPs who met during the Sustainable Development Committee yesterday to re-instate the discriminatory tax against palm oil, which had been rejected by the French Senate.
The tax was passed as part of the Biodiversity Bill, after Socialist MP Genevieve Gaillard, rapporteur, proposed to re-introduce the 90EUR per tonne tax on palm oil. This action follows the rejection of the tax by the French Senate early May.
The planned palm oil tax is a violation of WTO and EU trade rules. It would contribute to putting 300,000 small farmers out of work, and would also impact negatively the relations between France and Malaysia.
The CEO of MPOC, Dr Yusof Basiron, issued the following statement:
‘The vote by the National Assembly’s Sustainable Development Committee is unfair and unjust towards more than 300,000 palm oil small farmers in Malaysia who rely on palm oil for their livelihoods.
‘The tax is a clear violation of both WTO and EU trade rules. The ‘differential tax’ is discriminatory and disproportionate.
‘MPOC calls on French President François Hollande and Minister for Agriculture Stéphane Le Foll to stop this tax.’
Key Facts about Malaysian Palm Oil
Malaysia is the second-largest producer of palm oil, and a major exporter. The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) represents the interests of palm oil growers and small farmers, in Malaysia.
40% of all palm oil plantations in Malaysia are owned or farmed by small farmers, who have benefited from oil palm cultivation. Palm oil has been a major factor in Malaysia reducing poverty from 50% in the 1960s, down to less than 5% today. The palm oil industry directly employs more than 570,000 people, with another 290,000 people employed downstream.
Economic Impact of Palm Oil in France
According to respected economic analysts Europe Economics, palm oil contributes substantially to the French economy. 4,600 jobs in France are dependent on palm oil imports; palm oil contributes 167m EUR in tax revenue to France; and over 323m EUR in French GDP is attributed to palm oil imports.
The allegation that Malaysia is deforesting and destroying biodiversity is inaccurate. The Malaysian Government has committed to protecting at least 50% of land area as forest – a bold and far-sighted environmental commitment that no other country has matched, including France.
This commitment by Malaysia has been recognized by the United Nations and the World Bank. Malaysia is a recognized world-leader in forest protection.
Malaysia is committed to a balanced policy that allows for both land development for agriculture (including palm oil) and forest protection. Palm oil covers just 0.3% of the world’s agricultural land, and has the highest yield of any oilseed crop.
Health & Nutrition
Palm oil is a balanced oil, with 50% saturated and 50% unsaturated fatty acids. This balance provides excellent qualities for baking and food production. Palm oil is free of GMOs, and has been used as a replacement for dangerous trans fats, in Europe.
Multiple researchers and experts in France and across Europe confirm that palm oil is safe. A study from the French Foundation for Food & Health, explained that palm oil is not hazardous, and the amounts consumed in Europe are perfectly normal.
Similarly, a study in 2014 from the Mario Negri Institute in Milan, authored by Drs Elena Fattore and Roberto Fanelli, confirmed this point. The study found no evidence that palm oil is harmful.