There is no significant impact from the United States (US) boycott of Malaysian palm oil products.
Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali told the Dewan Rakyat that the US only imports a total of 40 tonnes of palm oil or 0.003 per cent from FGV Holdings Berhad (FGV).
"Apart from that, the export of palm oil to the US between May to Sept this year stood at 292,940 tonnes and 292,011 tonnes for the same period in 2019.
"The export of palm oil products from Malaysia to the United States generally did not face any issues except for the trade restrictions imposed against FGV palm oil products effective Oct 1.
"Therefore, the restriction over Malaysia's palm oil produced by the United States did not have any significant impact towards the sector for now," he said.
Khairuddin was responding to a question from Datuk Jalaluddin Alias (BN - Jelebu) who asked to what extent the US boycott of FGV Holdings Bhd products had affected Malaysia's palm oil product exports for 2020.
On Oct 7, the US blocked imports of palm oil and palm oil products from FGV Holdings Bhd, one of the world's largest producers based on information that "reasonably indicates" the use of forced labour.
On a related matter, Khairuddin said the Cabinet had decided to postpone the entry of foreign workers into the country, with the decision on June 4.
He said it was to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection and to empower the local workforce into the economic sector including plantation sector.
"The policy is a long term solution especially for issues involving the labour force in the plantation sector which was raised by the US," he said.
Khairuddin said the government also emphasised on the principles of social justice involving the labour force with the enforcement of labour laws and act on workers' welfare.
He admitted technical issues such as employers keeping passports of staff, workers bringing children to the plantation due to absence of guardian at home must be explained to the employers as they were included in force labour elements.
"The ministry via the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) will continue to clarify these matters through advocacy programmes," he explained.
Khairuddin said the FGV had also held virtual meetings with the US authorities in Oct to receive explanations on the import restrictions.
"The ministry learnt that US Customs Border Protection was positive in resolving the issues and is considering submitting a petition to revoke the Withhold Release Order.
"The petition also must be submitted along with an audit report from a trusted and just third party audit firm. FGV will be appointing an independent audit firm in the near future.
"The MPOB office in the US will be contacting the authorities there to follow up on the matter," he said.