JAKARTA – European Union Ambassador to Indonesia, Vincent Guerend, is saying that the union was not discriminating against crude palm oil from Indonesia and its derivatives adding that the regional grouping’s imports of those products from Indonesia continued to rise.
“Stories that the European Union is discriminating against CPO commodity and its derivatives are wrong and no reflecting the actual reality,” Guerend told the press here last week.
To back up his statement, Guerend said that the European Union, already the second larges export market for Indonesian CPO after China was importing 30 percent more of CPO from Indonesia in value and 90 percent more in volume in the first eight months of 2017.
“If one compares the first eight months of 2017 to the same period last year, there has been an increase in CPO exports to the European Union by some 30 percent in value and 90 percent in volume,” he said.
Guerend said that the value of Indonesian CPO exported to the union during the eight months reached two billion euro and added that “this shows that the European market is really open for Indonesian palm oil.”
“It is therefore difficult to ignore the negative reports that say the European Union is discriminating against Indonesian CPO. The reality is that there has been a substantial increase in Indonesian exports to the European Union,” the ambassador said.
The European Parliament in April issued “in Strassbourg, France, a report entitled “Report on Palm Oil and Deforestation of Rainforests” that labelled palm oil as a commodities that is closely linked to deforestation, corruption, exploitation of children workers and the oppression of the rights of customary societies.
The European Union has also demanded that the Indonesia improve the quality of its palm oil products so that they be in line with sustainable productions. It cited adherence to the standards of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO). Meanwhile, such standards were not demanded from other vegetable oil products such as soy beans, rapeseed, and sunflowers.
Indonesia and the Organization of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) have criticized the European Parliament’s report on palm oil as an irrelevant insult on the commodity and producing countries., In a celebration marking the 40th anniversary of the Summit for Asean-EU cooperation held in Manila in November , President Joko Widodo asked the European Union to bring a halt into its discriminative practices against Indonesia’s palm oil industry.
Guerend said that so far, palm oil is a major commodity in trade between Indonesia and the European Union and Europe. He said that the European Union was not hindering the trade in palm oil and was also not coming out with regulations prohibiting the use of palm oil.
He cited the very low import tax on Indonesian palm oil products. “About half of the Indonesian CPO entering the European union are even incurring only a 0-4 percent tax, lower than in other palm oil market in other regions,” said that ambassador who has been occupying his current post for the past three years.
However, Guerend also admitted that there was indeed some negative sentiments against Indonesian CPO products in the European Union.
“The ‘palm oil-free’ campaign is an initiative of European companies based on marketing aims, because the people of Europe are now increasingly giving attention to the sustainability of the products they consume,” explained Guerend.
To deal with these negative sentiments, Guerend said that the European Union was ready to assist Indonesian palm oil product in meeting sustainability principles for natural resources and our expectations in the European Union as the consumers.”
He said that the support was among other shown through the establishment of various working groups to discuss on improving the production quality and yield of Indonesian palm oil.
“We are also communicating with the government, the concerned stakeholders and the firms that deal with palm oil,” he added.