Europe Still Open For Indonesian Palm Oil

JAKARTA – The European market is still up for grabs for Indonesian palm oil, following the Swiss referendum on 07 March 2021 that shows 51.6 percent of the Swiss people agree on the imports of palm oil under the mechanism of the Indonesia-European Free Trade Association (EFTA) – Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IE-CEPA).

The chairman of the European Association for Advanced Indonesia (PETJ), Ari Manik said that the referendum results have given a breath of fresh air for Indonesia, which is the world’s largest producer of palm oil with 58 percent market share, to keep its stronghold in the European market after years of being threatened and rejected in the continent. “Under the IE-CEPA agreement, the Indonesian palm oil is allowed to enter the market as long as it meets the international standard of sustainability,” he said during webinar on “Facing Sustainability Challenges in Indonesian Palm Oil Industry”, which was organized in conjunction with the celebration of the world environment day on 05 June 2021.

The Indonesian Palm Oil Association (Gapki) Deputy Chairman Togar Sitanggang told the webinar participants that challenges facing the Indonesian palm oil are mainly concerned with the negative campaigns that are incessantly launched by certain groups to disgrace it at the global market.

But in reality the palm oil is the most efficient and versatile vegetable oil compared to other vegetable oils, making it the envy of the global market. In terms of land use, for example, the oil palm plantations are nine times more efficient than other vegetable oils. Its high versatility has also made the palm oil present in almost all food and personal care products on sale in supermarkets across the globe.

Indonesian Ambassador to Germany, Arif Havas Oegroseno expressed his appreciation to the Indonesian diaspora initiative to help find the solutions to the problems of Indonesian palm oil. “What is badly needed is a common understanding between Indonesia and the European Union (EU) regarding the palm oil,” Arif said in the webinar, which was also attended by a number of Indonesian ambassadors and senior diplomats to Europe, and a number of Indonesian diaspora in Europe and America.

PETJ Environment Department Head Husni Suwandhi hopes that all palm oil industrial players will not only focus on gaining profits, but also on protecting the environment and the welfare of 17 million workers and their families in the palm oil industry. “It is especially very necessary as the EU has demanded for a sustainable production of palm oil,” he said.

West Kalimantan Governor Sutarmidji mentioned during the webinar the contribution of oil palm plantation companies in developing local economy and in preventing the forest and land fires. “The government with the help of oil palm plantations set up task forces to prevent and extinguish the forest and land fires. As a result, the forest and land fires in West Kalimantan has drastically decreased,” Sukamara Regent Windu Subagio told the participants.

Indonesian Consul General to Frankfurt, Acep Somantri underlined the importance of the consistency and synergy of all stakeholders to continually develop a sustainable palm oil industry in Indonesia. “It is necessary to help realize the sustainable development goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations (UN), and to sustain the palm oil industry, the national economy and the future of our young generation,” he concluded. (*)

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