Malaysia on tit-for-tat slippery and oily war path versus EU on palm oil ban

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Malaysian Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong today launched scathing remarks against the European Union (EU), in a tit-for-tat battle against the EU ban of Malaysian palm oil products used in biodiesel.

The Malaysian minister said Malaysia should ban butter from the EU, and the EU should also stop exporting the product he said was 10 times more polluting to the environment.

“If the EU wants to justify the palm oil ban on the basis of carbon footprint, it should ban butter which is 10 times more polluting to the environment,” said Mah.

Mah also said the butter’s carbon footprint is 10 times more polluting than that of palm oil.

The war of words and the Malaysian threats to wage a trade war with the EU started with the 17th January Members of the European Parliament (MEP) vote in favor of a resolution to ban palm biodiesel from the EU energy mix after 2020.

The EU-28 is the second largest exporter of butter and butter oil, exporting 204 310t in 2016 and 163 579t in 2017 (Jan-Nov 2017 compared to Jan-Nov 2016), said a local portalin a report today.

However, Malaysia is altogether a major exporter of butter and butter oils. It occupies the number 10th place among the top exporters of the now contested product, with an exportation figure of 5 129t of butter and butter oils in 2016 and 5 948t in 2017 (Jan-Nov 2017 compared to Jan-Nov 2016).

Malaysia benefited more from the export of the products compared to the Europeans, which saw a significant decline in their export transactions as shown above.

The Malaysian export of the buttery products saw a 16% increase up to September last year, while the EU-28 exports of the product saw a fall of -20%.

Malaysia does not appear in the top ten of butter and butter oils importers, globally, which indicates that a Malaysian ban of EU butter products will not be significant and might not influence the debate on the EU ban of palm oil products for biodiesel.

Mah Siew Keong explained one tonne of butter production emits 23.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide, but the cultivation of oil palm to produce one tonne of palm oil only emits 2.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

“As you can see, the production of butter is 10 times more polluting than palm oil. Using their logic, we should ban butter from EU, and EU should also ban butter production and its exports,” he said.