The 11th Ministerial Meeting of the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) took place on 17 May 2023, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The meeting was chaired by YAB Dato’ Sri Haji Fadillah bin Haji Yusof, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Plantation and Commodities of Malaysia. H.E. Airlangga Hartarto, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, attended the meeting in person, while H.E. Dr. Laura Suazo, Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of Honduras, participated virtually.
The Meeting extended a warm welcome to Honduras as the third member of CPOPC, representing the Latin America region. The accession of Honduras will further strengthen the cooperation among palm oil producing countries. This development will pave the way for other palm oil producing countries to join CPOPC and leverage it as a strategic platform in enhancing efforts to accelerate the attainment of sustainability goals.
The Ministerial Meeting was participated by the representatives from Colombia, Ghana, and Papua New Guinea (PNG) as Observer Countries, along with Nigeria as a Guest Country. The Meeting was informed on the good news that the Government of PNG has approved their membership to CPOPC. The four countries expressed their support for the Council's strategies and priorities aimed at supporting the development of the industry and addressing global challenges, such as food security and renewable energy, highlighting the importance of working collaboratively towards these objectives.
Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Plantation and Commodities of Malaysia, and Chair of CPOPC alongside the Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia and Minister of Agriculture and Livestock of Honduras underscored the importance of strengthening the strategic roles of CPOPC in providing collaboration and consolidated efforts among the producers.
Such strong collaboration is required to address the challenges faced by the palm oil producing countries imposed by the importing countries. With regards to the recent developments in the European Union (EU), particularly the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR) which will negatively impact the palm oil industry and excludes the smallholders from the supply chain, CPOPC is organizing a Joint Mission of the producing countries to Brussels, 30 – 31 May 2023. The joint mission will also meet the key players of palm oil industry and civil society organizations in the EU to raise and deliberate this concern. The Meeting also took note of other proposed legislation under consideration at the EU, such as the Forced Labour Regulation, Green Claims Directive, and Renewable Energy Directive III, that require the attention of stakeholders in the palm oil industry.
In addition, the Meeting expressed its support for the ongoing CPOPC initiatives to engage with multilateral organizations, particularly the United Nations bodies, in order to enhance the visibility of the organization and increase its leverage. CPOPC will continue to address palm oil industry issues using a holistic approach based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The Ministers acknowledged the global vegetable oils market's dynamics and uncertainties that may impact the palm oil industry. CPOPC, however, remains optimistic that the palm oil production, demand, and prices will continue to grow positively in 2023 despite the challenges faced by the industry. Palm oil will continue to play a vital role in ensuring food security and feeding the global population. The Meeting also believes that palm oil will remain an important feedstock for biodiesel production ensuring long-term energy security. While the availability and supply of major vegetable oils remain uncertain in 2023, there is opportunity for palm oil to grow due to its availability, versatility, and price competitiveness.
The Meeting greatly appreciated the completion of three studies on palm oil conducted by research teams from Indonesia and Malaysia. The findings will be used to support the advocacy work of CPOPC and to refute the unfounded smear campaigns against the industry, which are often not substantiated by scientific evidence. The meeting welcomed further efforts to disseminate the study results to the global audience to counter misinformation, educate consumers and raise awareness of the benefits about palm oil.
Moving forward, the Meeting concludes that CPOPC has achieved great progress since its establishment in 2015. CPOPC has brought strategic actions together with a stronger voice at international stage. The Ministers hope CPOPC will continue to be recognized by international policy makers, civil society organisations and industry players. In regards to the joint mission to EU, both Ministers are optimistic that it will result in positive outcomes. They will convey their concerns on the EUDR, and establish strategic partnership on the implementation guidelines. Member countries of CPOPC are also unified in requesting for the EU to continue engaging the producers in considering the proposals to be put forth at the joint mission as a win-win formula to the EUDR implementation as well as other upcoming potential legislations. Member countries of CPOPC strongly advocate the need for a fundamental shift in the EU’s approach to oil palm.