As The EU Proposes A Ban On Palm Oil Which Would Save Orangutans; The Malaysian Government Threatens To Stop Ordering Fighter Jets In Retaliation
Defense officials have warned the British government that supporting a European ban on palm oil could jeopardize a pending agreement to sell locally-built fighter jets to Malaysia.
“Basically what this boils down to is that the Malaysian Government in retaliation to the EU’s proposed ban on palm oil is threatening to put a halt on their proposed order for military aircraft from the UK. This is now about whether those involved will place greater importance on saving the environment and the protection of endangered species or prioritize commercial trade, in this case, for weapons of war.” Dan Richardson, Animal Conservationist and Born Free Patron told WAN.
The main cause for concern, as deciphered from a thread of internal emails obtained by Unearthed, is that Malaysia is among the world’s top producers of palm oil and that the ban, which is intended to protect the habitats of orangutans and other endangered species, could, in turn, result in a Malaysian trade retaliation banning imports of European products.
Among the correspondence between the Ministry of Defense, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), and the British high commission was a government email stating that Malaysia was pressing the UK for its position on the ban and that it “could affect our bilateral relationship and potentially defense sales.”
The emails also reveal that officials at Defra were “keen to avoid being drawn on palm oil in relation to defense” when talking about the EU vote to the media. An official responded in February that “to start referring to defense deals in our response makes it look like it is a serious consideration in our approach to the issue when at the current time, it isn’t.”
On January 17th, the European Parliament decided to phase-out palm oil by 2021 and cap crop-based biofuels at the member states’ 2017 consumption levels and no more than 7% of all transport fuels until 2030.
The move outraged the governments of Indonesia and Malaysia, which produce most of the world’s palm oil.
The debate over palm oil has been significant during the countdown to Malaysia’s general election, which is tomorrow, and will gain momentum in a more decisive direction when the new government is in place; or not.