CANBERRA – The Chairman of World Growth, the pro-development NGO, Alan Oxley, today called on the Australian Government and the Opposition to oppose a bill restricting imports of palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia.
“A bill sponsored in the Senate by The Greens and Senator Xenophon which would restrict imports of products containing palm oil should be opposed by the Government and the Opposition,” said Mr Oxley. “The bill is fundamentally flawed, would harm the poor and damage relations with Malaysia and Indonesia.”
The bill would not allow products which contained palm oil to be sold unless labeled as containing palm oil. The bill also decreed no palm oil could be described as sustainable unless it was approved by a body set up by the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).“Palm oil is a major employer in Southeast Asia and one of the most successful industries in reducing poverty in the world,” said Mr Oxley. “The Greens and NGOs are running a political campaign against palm in Southeast Asia with unsupportable claims in total disregard of its importance to the poor. Senator Xenophon has allied himself with this shameful project.”
Mr Oxley said Greenpeace and WWF operated a long running campaign to curtail palm oil production in South East Asia because they objected to forest land being cleared to support the industry. The record showed their claims about biodiversity loss were unsupportable.“The claim labelling is harmless is spurious: the purpose is to restrict trade sale of any product containing palm oil and to enable activists to demonize and slur any such.
“Implementing the labelling requirements would also damage Australia’s relations with Malaysia and Indonesia. They are already fraught enough because of other issues.
Mr Oxley said implementing the bill would also be expensive and a ridiculous waste of taxpayers’ money because the amount of palm oil consumed in Australia is miniscule.
Mr Oxley considered the measure would be yet another green trade barrier initiative which would put Australia in breach of WTO rules. There is also a bill in parliament to ban imports of illegal products timber of which there is little evidence, said Mr Oxley.
Mr Oxley said this was in his opinion another roll out of a trade control to implement WWF’s recently announced ambition to control global markets in major agricultural products.
Alan Oxley is the Chairman of World Growth and a former Australian Ambassador to and Chairman of the GATT, the predecessor to the World Trade Organization.
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World Growth is a non-profit, non-governmental organization established to expand the research, information, advocacy, and other resources to improve the economic conditions and living standards in developing and transitional countries. At World Growth, we embrace the age of globalization and the power of free trade to eradicate poverty and create jobs and opportunities. World Growth supports the production of palm oil and the use of forestry as a means to promote economic growth, reduce poverty and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. World Growth believes a robust cultivation of palm oil and forestry provides an effective means of environmental stewardship that can serve as the catalyst for increasing social and economic development. For more information on World Growth, visit www.worldgrowth.org.