KUALA LUMPUR (July 31): The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) has expressed concern that the European Union’s (EU) new regulations on forced labour should not impose excessive burdens on operators in the palm oil supply chains.
The MPOC also hopes that these regulations will not create any obstacles to trade, it said in a statement on Monday (July 31).
Hence, the MPOC is requesting additional discussions with the EU regarding their proposed regulation on forced labour and to ensure that these regulations do not unfairly discriminate against the palm oil industry.
“Engagements should be made on the reliance on the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) standards and on Malaysia’s laws and regulations in ensuring compliance with the EU’s future requirements regarding forced labour.
“We should also work towards ensuring that the country will not be considered as a high-risk area and that palm oil is not deemed a high-risk product,” the MPOC said about the recent European Parliament’s Committee on International Trade and the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection joint meeting on July 18.
The meeting was held to exchange views on the European Commission’s (EC) proposal for a regulation prohibiting products made with forced labour on the EU market.
The proposal had been published on Sept 14, 2022, and aims at contributing to the global eradication of forced labour, including child labour, and covers all products made available on the EU market.
“Under the proposed regulation, EU member states’ authorities will follow a risk-based approach in assessing the likelihood that operators violated the prohibition to place products made with forced labour on the EU market.
“That assessment is to be based on all information available, including a database of forced labour risks in specific geographic areas or concerning specific products that are yet to be established,” the EU proposed regulations read.
Discussions in the joint meeting touched on several potentially controversial issues. For instance, Members of the European Parliament (MEP) discussed whether companies from high-risk areas would have to prove that there has been no forced labour, instead of EU authorities having to do so.
MEPs also discussed the scope of the future rules, notably whether all economic operators, including small and medium enterprises, should be covered and whether the services closely related to the products, such as storage or transportation, are to be included.
Further, MEPs considered whether remediation should be a condition for a ban on products made with forced labour to be lifted by EU authorities.
The next joint meeting is scheduled to take place on Sept 19, 2023, when MEPs will vote on the draft report on the commission’s proposal.
Once the Parliament has defined its position, inter-institutional trilogue negotiations with the Council of the EU and with the EC will ensue, to agree on a common text.