Malaysian Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong today said Malaysia should ban butter from the European Union (EU), in a tit-for-tat response for the EU’s ban of palm oil used in biodiesel.
The minister also said the EU should also ban butter production and its exports to third countries.
The EU-28 is the largest exporter of butter and butter oil, exporting 204 310t in 2016 and 163 579t in 2017 (Jan-Nov 2017 compared to Jan-Nov 2016).
The malaysian minister said the EU should actually ban the production and exports of butter since this commodity’s carbon footprint is 10 times more polluting than that of palm oil.
“If the EU wants to justify the palm oil ban on the basis of carbon footprint, it should ban butter which is 10 times more polluting to the environment,” said Mah.
However, Malaysia is also a major exporter of butter and butter oils. It occupies the number 10th place among the top exporters of the now contested product, with an exportation figure of 5 129t of butter and butter oils in 2016 and 5 948t in 2017 (Jan-Nov 2017 compared to Jan-Nov 2016).
Malaysia benefited more from the export of the products compared to the Europeans, which saw a significant decline in their export transactions as shown above.
The Malaysian export of the buttery products saw a 16% increase up to September last year, while the EU-28 exports of the product saw a fall of -20%.
Malaysia does not appear in the top ten of butter and butter oils importers, globally, which indicates that a Malaysian ban of EU butter products will not be significant and might not influence the debate on the EU ban of palm oil products for biodiesel.
Mah Siew Keong explained one tonne of butter production emits 23.8 tonnes of carbon dioxide, but cultivation of oil palm to produce one tonne of palm oil only emits 2.3 tonne of carbon dioxide.
“As you can see, the production of butter is 10 times more polluting than palm oil. Using their logic, we should ban butter from EU, and EU should also ban butter production and its exports,” he said.
Mah was responding to the EU Parliament’s recent vote to ban palm oil alleging the production of this commodity results in high carbon footprint.
On the 17th January, 429 Members of the European Parliament (MEP) voted for the resolution to ban palm biodiesel from the EU energy mix after 2020.
The final ruling on the EU Renewable Energy Directive II will be made in a tripartite meeting along with the Council of the EU and the European Commission in mid-February 2018.
During Chinese New Year, Mah will lead a palm oil delegation to the EU. “We will meet with ministers and commissioners from at least five countries on this EU resolution.
“Trade discrimination against palm will not be tolerated. The EU Parliament’s vote to ban palm oil biodiesel will harm European trade and cooperation in Malaysia, and southeast Asia,” Mah said.