Monday, September 12, 2011

Malaysia says appreciates Australian Govt oil palm bill stance

PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian government appreciates the Australian government's move to not support the Food Standards Amendment (labelling palm oil) Bill which could jeopordise the country's palm oil industry.

PLANTATION [] Industries and Commodities Minister, Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, said on Monday, Sept12 Malaysia will take every effort including sending a representative to Australia for discussions at the committee level meetings bound to be held before the Bill is debated at Parliament level.

The Bill is proposing a law that will require the labelling of palm oil in food products.

"In this matter, Dr. Craig Emerson, Australia's Trade Minister and the government of Australia have clearly stated their views that the proposed Bill was anti-trade in nature and that they would oppose it. We wish to extend our appreciation to the Australian government," Dompok told a press conference here.

He said Malaysia would be also contacting the Independent Representative Council in Australia to provide information on the country's sustainable development of oil palm and also seek their support so that the Bill does not receive their support at the House of Representatives.

Dompok said Malaysia was also ready to work with other institutions in Australia such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation (CSIRIO) to beef up research into the use of oil palm and health.

On June 23, the Australian Senate had approved the amendment to the Food Act which requires food products containing palm oil to be labelled as such instead of being listed as vegetable oil. Malaysia considers this as discriminatory against the agriculture produce.

In relation to this, Dompok also met up with Senator Nick Xenophon at the Australian Parliament recently to provide a detailed explanation on the safety of palm oil and how the unique Orang Utan species were protected in the forests of Sabah and Sarawak.

Dompok also reiterated Malaysia's commitment to retain at least 50 per cent of its land under forest cover with sufficient protection for its Orang Utan.

In line with this, Dompok said all petrol stations in the country would be equipped with facilities for the bio-diesel, B5, before the end of 2012.

"Currently, only the central zone of the country has the facility for bio-diesel B5. We hope that before the end of next year, all petrol stations in the country including Sabah and Sarawak will have the facility. - Bernama

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