Marsudi highlights palm oil issue in meeting with Alfano

Marsudi highlights palm oil issue in meeting with Alfano

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (right) shook hands with Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano (left) during a bilateral meeting at the Pancasila Building, the Foreign Ministry complex, Jakarta, Wednesday (7/2/2018). (ANTARA PHOTO/Aprillio Akbar) ()

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi highlighted the palm oil issue during a meeting with her Italian counterpart, Angelino Alfano, at the Foreign Affairs Ministry office in Jakarta on Wednesday.

"Regarding palm oil, I once again convey Indonesia`s concern over the European Parliament`s decision to ban palm oil in the use of biofuel," Marsudi stated.

The Indonesian government has slammed the approval of the new EU bill on clean energy by the European Parliament, which, among other things, will limit the use of palm oil in transportation fuel starting from 2021.

The bill contains a plan to increase renewable energy use to at least 35 percent of the overall energy use, but it also limits the use of biofuels, made from food and feed crops, to only 7 percent of transportation fuels.

Viewing the decision as discriminative, Marsudi asserted that the issue cannot be ignored as among Indonesia`s economic and social interests.

"We take a fairly balanced approach between economic development and environmental issues," she affirmed.

Considering that Italy is the third largest importer of Indonesian palm oil, Marsudi expected the representative of the Italian government, sitting at the European Parliament, to speak for both countries` mutual interest on this issue, in consultation with the European Council and European Commission.

Italy had imported 913.9 thousand tons of Indonesian palm oil in 2016.

Indonesia plans to reveal the data on Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) program and facts that oil palm plantations had helped millions of people escape from poverty and had been managed sustainably.

The ISPO is one of Indonesia`s ways to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to Foreign Ministry`s spokeperson Arrmanatha Nasir.

"Now, various steps have been taken by Indonesia as well as other palm oil-producing countries to produce sustainable palm oil. There are also many researches that have concluded that palm oil is no less sustainable than other products, such as sunflower oil," he added.

Amid the concern regarding the sustainable method of cultivating palm oil, Indonesian palm oil exports to European countries rose 15 percent from 4.37 million tons in 2016 to 5.03 million tons in 2017.

According to the Indonesian Association of Palm Oil Producers (GAPKI), palm oil will still have higher competitiveness than other vegetable oils because of its low price. It is also much used and cannot be replaced by other vegetable oils.