A message for the French President
Guarantee of fair treatment?
Euro-centric sustainability criteria may not fit the national development goals of Malaysia that incorporate economic, social and environmental needs, and are further defined by Malaysian federal and state legislations. Rather, some Euro-centric criteria are designed to only appease European buyers.
In other words, these standards may not be designed to benefit Malaysia but for sure they are designed to benefit Europe. The French government’s Sustainability Criteria Commission should be looked at in the same way.
Thus far, France and most European governments have ignored Malaysia’s efforts on sustainable palm oil. Malaysia’s environmental management credentials lead the region. The Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil standard (MSPO) follows international best practices.
The industry is investing in a far-reaching method for high carbon stock forests. It has also signaled that it is open to bilateral trade arrangements for palm oil based on sustainability and incorporating the MSPO.
But apparently this means little. The old European way of dealing with developing countries needs to change. Malaysia is one of many developing nations now with more power and influence in the world. It is time to use this to defend its products.
Hollande’s visit to Malaysia was important for French business. According to French media reports, there are hopes of defence contracts being signed. Alongside such priorities, the President was asked to recognise the Malaysian priority on palm oil.
He responded by guaranteeing that palm oil would be treated fairly in France. The French government needs to hold to this promise.