Recent threats out of Malaysia and Indonesia indicating that the two Southeast Asian countries may file a complaint with the WTO arguing that trade barriers imposed by developed nations and activist groups against the import of oil palm are protectionist have elicited a response from an EU delegation.
Xinhuanet.com reports that Julian Wilson, the head of the European Union (EU) delegation to Indonesia and Brunei, said the EU welcomed the opportunity to defend its trade incentives for certain forms of biofuel — which does not include those derived from palm oil, local media reported here on Friday. He adds that the incentives offered to biofuels derived from a mixture of fossil fuels and rapeseed, for example, were not meant to harm imports of crude palm oil, but were only intended to promote use of those biofuels most effective in reducing carbon emissions.
We really hope to have a debate at the WTO on the matter and we welcome it…We never block any oil produced by any countries. EU directives will be effective regarding every oil….Consumer trends in the EU and globally are changing to demand more environmentally friendly products. Companies need to cope with these changes.
At issue at the WTO would be the EU renewable-energy directive, which states that biofuel from palm oil results in a 19 percent reduction in carbon emissions — below the 35 percent threshold required to receive trade benefits. It also establishes sustainable criteria regarding deforestation or the destruction of wetlands necessary to build oil palm plantations.
Sound familiar? This is akin to the arguments set forth by the corn industry in the United States over California’s LCFS…just on an international stage (read Is California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard Compatible with RFS 2.0?).