Given the large role of the palm oil sector in the Indonesian economy, the Government is very serious and persistent in providing great attention to the development of this commodity industry.

“In every existing trade agreement (we) will give priority to crude palm oil,” said Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita on the first day of the fourteenth Indonesian Palm Oil Conference (IPOC) in Bali on Thursday (1/11).

Enggartiasto Lukita speaks at press conference in IPOC 2018

He stressed that in dealing with every trade agreement with other countries, Indonesia is very persistent in defending Indonesian oil palm and stipulating quid pro quo which benefits all parties.

Lukita also explained that the negative issue addressed to the palm oil industry was the impact of trade competition with Europeans which do not produce palm oil. “Trump did not start the trade war, Europe did, as it treated the palm oil import policy unfairly.”

The most important thing at the moment, according to him, is the unity among all stakeholders in developing the Indonesian palm oil industry. An example is the development in the health sector.

“Many think that when palm oil is consumed continuously, it is not good for health. Studies show that consumption of saturated acid does not increase the risk of heart disease,” he said.

He said it was time for Indonesia not to be reactive, responding to negative issues launched against oil palm, but proactively spread positive campaigns about this commodity.

In addition, starting a positive campaign for the Indonesian palm oil industry is a joint task that must begin immediately. “If we don’t educate people about palm oil benefits, the business will eventually become a sunset industry. We have to do it now,” Lukita said.

Lukita was aware that currently, CPO prices are declining due to accumulated stockpiles. According to him, this momentum must be used by Indonesia to develop its market more broadly.

“We have opened the path to African market and others, and accelerated various agreements. In every visit related to the agreement, I asked to create a business forum,” Lukita explained.

India, often called as one of the largest CPO importing countries from Indonesia, currently plans to reduce imports of palm oil commodities.

Responding to the issue, Lukita claimed to have prepared several strategies to maintain Indonesia’s CPO trade balance. “We will have a bilateral meeting with India at ASEAN Meeting related to this and we have prepared several things to find the best solution,” he said.

Lukita stressed that in developing the Indonesian and international CPO markets, a mutually beneficial strategy is needed for all parties. “We choose collaboration rather than retaliation,” he concluded.

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