Malaysian smallholders urge EU to review deforestation-free regulation

Bloomberg filepix for illustration purpose only.

Bloomberg filepix for illustration purpose only.

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KUALA LUMPUR (March 15): More than 500 smallholders in the country signed a petition as a joint stance to urge the European Union (EU) to review the European Union Deforestation-free Regulation (EUDR) that is deemed discriminatory. 

The petition was sent to the delegation of the EU to Malaysia by six representatives of the palm oil sector, namely the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda), the National Association of Smallholders Malaysia and Sarawak Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority  (Salcra).

Also included are Sarawak Dayak Oil Palm Planters Association (Doppa), Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra) and Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda).

The petition among others sought the EU endorsement of the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) and remove Malaysia from the list of countries at risk if the EUDR is implemented.

National Association of Smallholders Malaysia deputy president Adzmi Hassan said Malaysia has an excellent record in forest protection and sustainable production.

“In fact, the MSPO mandatory certification ensures Malaysia’s commitment to sustainability standards that covers various aspects,” he said at a press conference after the EUDR Impact on Smallholders and Malaysian Industry town hall session at Menara Felda on Wednesday (March 15).

Adzmi said Malaysia’s label as a high-risk country will play down the government’s effort to protect the environment.

The six agencies said smallholders collectively call on the EU government to stop discrimination and unfair protectionist actions as contained in the EUDR, as this affects the livelihood of smallholders, depending on income from palm oil and rubber exports to the EU. 

“Hundreds of thousands of smallholders in Malaysia depend on palm oil and rubber export earnings to secure the future and survival of local communities.

“The EUDR has placed undue and unfair burdens and terms on smallholders that will limit the market for their produce in the European Union.

“Particularly, as the unilateral and unrealistic EUDR demands on the traceability and geolocation of where products are produced. This will affect the living standards and income of communities, thereby diverting away from the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs),” Adzmi said. 

It was reported that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said the implementation of the EUDR will increase the production cost and affect the competitiveness of commodity-based products.

Fadillah, who is also minister of plantation and commodities, said the ministry views EUDR as a form of non-tariff measure on agricommodity products covering the country’s main commodities such as palm oil and rubber products, cocoa and wood-based products.

When the EUDR is implemented, commodity products imported by EU must be free of deforestation activities that occurred after Dec 31, 2020, he said.