“Indonesia’s request to the European Union to treat [the issue of] palm oil fairly is a reasonable request,” said Minister of Foreign Affairs RetnoMarsudi at the 23rd ASEAN and European Union Ministerial Meeting, which was held virtually.
“Indonesia does not sacrifice environmental sustainability to pursue economic development,” she added. Compared to other plant-based oils, which use a total land area of 278 million hectares, palm oil only uses 17 million hectares. Land use for palm oil is, therefore, more effective than for other plant-based oils.
Minister Retno said that Southeast Asia is the world’s largest producer of palm oil, contributing 89% to total world production. Palm oil plays an important role in the way to achieve Sustainable Development Goals/SDGs.
The industry has created 26 million jobs in the region. In ASEAN countries, more than 40% of oil palm plantations are managed by small farmers. In Indonesia alone, the industry has removed the poverty status of 10 million people and contributed US$23 billion in foreign exchange in 2019.
The EU Commission in March 2019 passed a delegated act on the Renewable Energy Directive / RED II. In the document, the EU Commission concludes that palm oil causes massive deforestation globally and plans to phase out the use of palm oil to 0% by 2030.
Indonesia has emphasized that environmental protection in post-pandemic economic recovery is a common interest and commitment. Green palm oil is part of Indonesia’s commitment, and the European Union needs to apply the principle of fairness to this issue.
In ASEAN, this commodity supports the achievement of sustainable development goals and has employed 26 million people, including small farmers who run 40% of palm oil plantations. The palm oil industry is worth US$19 billion.
To increase mutual understanding and bridge better policies and trust in a sustainable and environmentally-friendly palm oil industry, it was agreed that a Joint Working Group (JWG) should be formed to discuss palm oil and other plant-based oils fairly. “I welcome the plan to hold the first JWG meeting in January 2021,” said Minister Retno.
Indonesia has emphasized that ” in the future, the partnership between ASEAN and the EU need to continue to uphold mutually beneficial, equal and non-discriminatory principles for the two regions to be able to level up to an increased strategic partnership,” the Minister of Foreign Affairs concluded.
In the meeting, which was attended by 10 ASEAN Foreign Ministers and 23 European Union Foreign Ministers, the ministers emphasized the joint commitment to encourage the principle of multilateralism both in vaccine procurement, increased trade between the two regions, economic recovery, and environmental protection.
Various pending issues in the partnership, including the finalization of the discussion prior to FTA negotiations, the finalization of CATA (Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement), the implementation of the 2018-2022 Plan of Action, and the implementation of the Joint Statement on Connectivity, were also followed up throughout the meeting.
The main outcome of this meeting was an agreement to level up the ASEAN-European Union partnership to a strategic partnership, namely to enhance relations and cooperation in various fields. This meeting also produced two outcome documents, namely the ASEAN-EU Joint Ministerial Statement on Connectivity and the Co-Chair’s press release. (*)
Sumber: Kementerian Luar Negeri RI