Mumbai, India (ANTARA) - Deputy Trade Minister Jerry Sambuaga said on Wednesday that discrimination against Indonesia's palm oil hampers the country's national interests.

He said that palm oil is a strategic national interest as it contributes 3.5 percent to Indonesia's gross domestic product (GDP).

"Therefore, discriminating against palm oil means harming our national interests and security," he said during the 2nd Sustainable Vegetable Oils Conference (SVOC) in Mumbai, India.

Millions of small farmers in Indonesia are heavily dependent on palm oil commodities, so the government will not stand idle in situations that disrupt their livelihoods, he said.

"We will not burden them, as this goes against our Constitution," he stressed, alluding to the European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR).

Sambuaga pointe out that Indonesia's palm oil has the capacity to meet the global demand for sustainable vegetable oils.

However, he stressed the need to rectify the negative image associated with the commodity.

With Indonesia producing 46.7 million tons of palm oil in 2022, the country holds a strategic position to be a "determinant" of global palm oil supply and become a major producer of palm oil, he said.

"Unfortunately, palm oil has been perceived as a source of disruption, causing health problems and environmental degradation," he added.

Sambuaga urged all parties to convince global consumers of palm oil's sustainability.

He emphasized that palm oil is one of the vegetable oils that strictly adheres with sustainability standards, including those set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO), and the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO).

He pointed out that the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine will heighten the need for more reliable and sustainable vegetable oils at affordable prices.

"Discriminating against palm oil will not bring any results, rather, it will only harm the global food, cosmetics, and energy industries due to the shortage of this key ingredient," he added.

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Translator: Ade J, Kenzu
Editor: Anton Santoso
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