Malaysian Palm Oil Council: End of the Road for French Palm Oil Tax
Kuala Lumpur (21 July 2016) – The proposed French Palm Oil tax has been definitively rejected, following the final decision by the French National Assembly yesterday.
The French Government, National Assembly, and Senate have now all confirmed the rejection of the Palm Oil tax. This decision is a strong statement towards strengthening the relations between France and Malaysia.
The French Government has stated that it will review the taxation of vegetable oils later this year. In this process, the French Government must not forget the decision made yesterday, and must uphold France’s commitment not to tax palm oil.
The CEO of MPOC, Dr Yusof Basiron, issued the following statement:
“The vote in the National Assembly Plenary confirms the withdrawal of the Palm Oil tax. 300,000 small farmers in Malaysia thank the French Government and MPs for rejecting this unfair and unjust tax.
“This has been a long and difficult process, but the correct decision has been made. Yesterday’s vote is an important recognition from France that Palm Oil should not be taxed. That principle must be respected in all future discussions.”
What Others Are Saying
The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) commissioned an economic analysis, reported by Food Navigator, which demonstrated that no economic basis existed for the proposed Palm Oil tax. The report’s author, University of Aix-Marseilles Professor Pierre Garello, describes the claims in favour of the tax as “factually and materially wrong”.
French experts, including Cécile Philippe from the Institut Economique Molinari, have pointed out the fact that no environmental case exists for taxing Palm Oil. Philippe writes in La Tribune, “Palm Oil is not the environmental monster that has been portrayed…it is impossible to show that this new tax increase would preserve the environment”.
Read the full article here.
Trade expert, Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, Director of the European Center for International Political Economy, has confirmed that the tax is illegal under WTO trade rules. Lee-Makiyama writes in Borderlex, “WTO rules have helped France to successfully repeal discriminatory taxes on France’s wines enacted in the name of ‘public health’. In the same manner that a WTO panel ruled in favour of French wines, it will also repeal a discriminatory Nutella tax”.
Key Facts about Malaysian Palm Oil
Malaysia is the second-largest producer of Palm Oil, and a major exporter. The Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) represents the interests of Palm Oil growers and small farmers, in Malaysia.
40% of all Palm Oil plantations in Malaysia are owned or farmed by small farmers, who have benefited from oil palm cultivation. Palm Oil has been a major factor in Malaysia reducing poverty from 50% in the 1960s, down to less than 5% today. The Palm Oil industry directly employs more than 570,000 people, with another 290,000 people employed downstream.
Economic Impact of Palm Oil in France
According to respected economic analysts Europe Economics, Palm Oil contributes substantially to the French economy. 4,600 jobs in France are dependent on Palm Oil imports; Palm Oil contributes 167m EUR in tax revenue to France; and over 323m EUR in French GDP is attributed to Palm Oil imports.
The allegation that Malaysia is deforesting and destroying biodiversity is inaccurate. The Malaysian Government has committed to protecting at least 50% of land as forest area – a bold and far-sighted environmental commitment that no other country has matched, including France.
This commitment by Malaysia has been recognized by the United Nations and the World Bank. Malaysia is a recognized world-leader in forest protection.
Malaysia is committed to a balanced policy that allows for both land development for agriculture (including Palm Oil) and forest protection. Palm Oil covers just 0.3% of the world’s agricultural land, and has the highest yield of any oilseed crop.
Health & Nutrition
Palm Oil is a balanced oil, with 50% saturated and 50% unsaturated fatty acids. This balance provides excellent qualities for baking and food production. Palm Oil is free of GMOs, and has been used as a replacement for dangerous trans fats in Europe.
Multiple researchers and experts in France and across Europe confirm that Palm Oil is safe. A study from the French Foundation for Food & Health, explained that Palm Oil is not hazardous, and the amounts consumed in Europe are perfectly normal.
Similarly, a study in 2014 from the Mario Negri Institute in Milan, authored by Drs Elena Fattore and Roberto Fanelli, confirmed this point. The study found no evidence that Palm Oil is harmful.