The Palm Scribe

Indonesia Seeks Clarification on European Union RED Draft Amendment at WTO Meet

Indonesian sought clarification on the latest draft of amendment of the Renewable Energy Directive (RED) of the European Union (EU) during a meeting of the Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva on June 19-21, 2018, a trade official said.

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“What the Government of Indonesia did was seek clarifications from the European Union on matters that are still deemed unclear and demand that before the Draft Directive be notified on the WTO website to meet the principle of transparency, an opportunity be given to all WTO member countries to make their comment,” Director for Trade Security of the Trade Ministry, Pradnyawati, said in a text message to The Palm Scribe late on Tuesday (26/6).

A local media here had earlier in the day reported her as saying that the government was filing a complaint to the WTO over the amendment of the RED, reached during a ‘trilogue” a tripartite meeting between the Parliament, the Council and the Commission earlier this month.

The draft amendment, among others, postponed the initial deadline for the phasing out of palm oil from the EU RED set for 2021 to now 2030. The year 2030 was initially the deadline for phasing out of other food oil from the renewable energy program.

Indonesia, the world’s largest producer, and Malaysia, the second-largest, have both accused the European Union of discriminating against palm oil in its previous RED versions, for setting an earlier deadline for the phasing out of palm oil.

“The EU delegation expressed that the RED II policy is not aimed at singling out palm oil, including prohibiting the circulation of palm oil in the European Union,” said a text sent by Pradnyawati that she said was the EU reply to the demand for clarification. The text also said that RED was more of a roadmap for member counties to meet their commitment to the use of renewable energy and the UN SDGs.

‘The EU delegation also expressed that what was reached by the legislative bodies at the Trilogue still needed to be followed up with various regulations at the technical level that would be discussed in the future,” the text added.

A press release of the Indonesian Permanent Representative Office in Geneva, issued after the committee meeting ended on Juni 21, said that the clarification was an expression of “concerns”. Indonesia, it said, sought clarification from the European Union on the scope of the amendment and the treatment to be accorded by the European Union on palm oil, including its derivative products and biofuel.

Indonesia also submitted a special note regarding the plan of the European Union to conduct a study regarding the use of renewable energi that will be used as supporting material for the RED policy.

“Regarding this, Indonesia hopes that the study can be conducted in an objective way and not merely be directed to developing countries that possess forests with their biodiversity,” the release from the WTO-TBT committee meeting said.

Indonesia, the release added, is encouraging the European Union not to create policies that are more restrictive than necessary, through the establishment of a variety of standardizations that would only hinder market access for various products from developing countries.

Besides expressing concerns for the RED II policy, Indonesia also questioned the implementation of EU regulations 1169/2011 and 1924/2006 which does not prohibit the use of the “palm oil-free” label on the packaging of a number of food products in the European Union.

“The mushrooming of the ‘palm oil free’ labeling is feared, will send the wrong message to consumers that the use of palm oil can entail certain bad impact,” the release said.

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