Less than a year after the defeat of the Nutella tax, the French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault reassured the Malaysian people that his government would reject all future attempts to introduce a tax on palm oil. PM Ayrault was speaking in occasion of a joint press conference held with Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Razak in Kuala Lumpur.
‘France is not hostile to palm oil. I wish to stress this as forcefully as possible’, said PM Ayrault. ‘This is a topic on which there has been considerable misunderstanding’ he added, ‘palm oil will not be treated differently from other vegetable oils and there will be no discrimination on palm oil’.
PM Ayrault’s resolve to stand up against discrimination and new taxes faced by Malaysian palm oil in France will soon be tested. Socialist Senator Yves Daudigny is currently working on a project to introduce ‘behavioural taxes’, which in part will target palm oil. He is due to present his proposal in Autumn 2013. PM Ayrault’s government must stay true to its words and remain steadfast in its commitment to ensure that this key Malysian product is treated the same as other vegetable oils produced in France.
PM Ayrault’s comments were made in response to an open letter addressed to him by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) and the National Association of Smallholders, Malaysia (NASH). In their letter, NASH and MPOC urged PM Ayrault to put an end to the actions of a number of French companies, which were having a damaging impact on the palm oil industry and communities in Malaysia.
Unfortunately, MP Ayrault stopped short of acknowledging MPOC’s and NASH’s legitimate request to utilize his government’s existing authority to end the unfounded attacks against palm oil by French companies. French companies continue to use of labels that denigrate palm oil as a product, despite being in contravention of French laws and regulations.
In the spirit of a stronger and more involved partnership between these two great nations, the commitment by PM Ayrault to see that Malaysian Palm Oil is treated fairly and justly in France is a step in the right direction, but only time will tell.