Borrell from EU: palm oil issue should not hamper trade talks with Indonesia
Ongoing negotiations between the European Union and Indonesia on a trade and investment deal should not be hampered by differences over palm oil, the EU’s top diplomat said, even as the block aims to phase out the use of palm oil in fuels.
Palm oil is one of the main exports of Southeast Asia’s largest economy and the EU is its third destination. The EU largely imports multipurpose vegetable oil for fuel.
But as part of its Renewable Energy Directive, the European Commission decided in 2019 that palm oil cultivation leads to excessive deforestation and that its use as fuel in the EU should be reduced to zero by now. 2030.
However, EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said in an interview with Reuters during a visit to Jakarta, “Palm oil is an issue that cannot compromise a broad approach to cooperation. strengthened (with Indonesia), covering many different areas.
“We have to look for a solution,” he said.
Indonesia and the EU began negotiations for a so-called Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in 2016 with the aim of expanding trade, which last year amounted to $ 20.6 billion. euros ($ 25.05 billion), and stimulate direct investment.
Due to EU restrictions on palm oil, an Indonesian official has threatened to review trade negotiations to ensure palm oil is fairly positioned in the planned deal. (https://reut.rs/3if8FP4)
“I understand that a lot of people have been lifted out of poverty thanks to palm oil, but we also have to take environmental issues into consideration,” Borrell added.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, after meeting with Borrell on Wednesday, told reporters that Jakarta wants palm oil to be “treated fairly” and that the government is committed to producing it in an environmentally sustainable manner .
In the past, Indonesia has accused the EU of using environmental concerns as “a pretext for protectionism”, in fact a discriminatory tool to protect locally grown vegetable oil.
“We are reviewing our criteria to make it clear that there is no such discrimination,” Borrell said.
Indonesia has filed a lawsuit against the EU at the World Trade Organization over restrictions on palm oil fuel. Its regional rival, Malaysia, has filed a complaint with the WTO over the EU’s renewable energy directive.
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