Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin has chided US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) for its “hasty and unwarranted action” against Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP).
“I strongly wish to reiterate that the Malaysian palm oil industry operates under strict standards in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.
“The ministry is also working closely with the Human Resource Ministry and the Environment and Water Ministry to ensure that the country’s oil palm industry complies with domestic and international laws and practices,” she said in a statement yesterday.
The CBP had issued a Withhold Release Order (WRO) on palm oil, including all crude palm oil and palm kernel oil and derivative products, made wholly or in part with palm oil traceable to SDP on Dec 16, 2020.
The US authorities had allegedly established that there was reasonable evidence to demonstrate SDP harvested the fruits and produced the palm oil using forced labor. Under the WRO, products can still land in the United States but cannot be traded or processed.
Zuraida said her ministry would seek further clarification on the issue from the relevant US agencies so that an immediate solution could be reached.
“For this purpose, the ministry will work closely with Wisma Putra and the International Trade and Industry Ministry.
“Besides that, the ministry will also extend full cooperation to agencies in the United States and other countries so that the country’s palm oil can be traded freely globally,” she said, reported Bernama.
She added that her ministry would continue to work hard to ensure the long-term interests of the palm oil industry were safeguarded and further assist millions of oil palm smallholders and other stakeholders.
“I also call on all Malaysians to work together with the ministry in efforts to address the anti-palm oil propaganda by Western countries which is clearly aimed at bringing down our country’s palm oil industry,” she said.
Human Resource Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan on Sunday told companies that were subject to export restrictions to improve their internal working practices or face tough action.
He had also instructed the Manpower Department to carry out an immediate investigation.
“I am committed to addressing this issue immediately to ensure Malaysia is no longer associated with forced labor practices,” he had said.