Opening Remarks by the Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs

Delivered by The Honorable Minister Airlangga Hartarto, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Republic of Indonesia at the Official Opening of the 2nd Ministerial Meeting of Palm Oil Producing Countries (MMPOPC), 18 November 2019, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Her Excellency Madam Teresa Kok Minister of Primary Industries, Malaysia

Your Excellencies Ministers, Vice Ministers, High-Level Representatives and Ambassadors of Palm Oil Producing Countries

Distinguished Speakers and Delegates,

Ladies and Gentlemen

At the outset, allow me to express my sincere appreciation to our host the Government of Malaysia for the warm welcome and hospitality.

It is also a pleasure for me to welcome fellow Minister and high-level representatives of palm oil producing countries from Central and Latin America, Africa and Asia Pacific in our midst.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Two years ago, we gathered in Bali, Indonesia to set out a global movement of oil palm cultivating countries alliance through the Inaugural Ministerial Meeting of Palm Oil Producing Countries (IMMPOPC).

As global demand for palm oil will continue to rise in the years to come, it will continue to be key source of export revenue and income for the welfare of millions of people of our respective countries.

That is why today’s meeting is important.

We are here to redouble our efforts in pursuing the same objectives by charting actions to promote a better future for palm oil, a better future for oil palm producers, a better future for our peoples.

The growing solidarity among producing countries is one of the reasons for us to meet today. That solidarity needs to be translated into actions. Should we work in a coherent, coordinated and effective way, then we need a joint platform to do it.

As an intergovernmental organization, I am of the view that Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) should serve as our common platform to strengthen cooperation among palm oil producing countries.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Permit me to share some perspectives in our individual and collective efforts in order to ensure the continued importance of palm oil in the global economy.

  • Firstly, To improve  of Smallholders’ Productivity, Capacity and Welfare. Smallholders account for 40% of global palm oil production. In our case, it is even higher. We have to assist those farmers to address challenges, such as land issues and infrastructure, limited access to financial institutions, lack of capacity to meet sustainability standards, non-certified seeds, and low productivity.
  • Secondly,Sustainable Development Goals should be our key criteria to ensure we continue to promote palm oil industry and at the same time addressing environmental and social justice issues.For producing countries, palm oil is an enabler in poverty alleviation, better education, reducing inequality, availability of food, good health, and renewable energy, to name a few.
  • Fourthly, Global Partnership to Sustain Palm Oil Price. From time to time, the industry has been experiencing price volatility. To reverse the situation, palm oil producing countries need to develop strategies to get the price to remunerative levels. As we have witnessed in the last few weeks the price is on an upward trend.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Over the years, palm oil has been one of Indonesia’s most valuable commodities. Last year alone, it contributed no less than USD 20,54 billion to the Indonesia’s export revenue.

As a labor-intensive industry, it has contributed concretely to poverty alleviation and to reduce inequality of more than 17 million people. Therefore, like in other producing countries, palm oil has enabled Indonesia to achieve SDGs 2030.

As I have mentioned before, palm oil shall remain the world’s leading vegetable oil for the years and decades to come. Hence we can expect more scrutiny and impediments along the way. Palm oil is a victim of its own undeniable success.

But, none should deter us all. Collective measures by palm oil producing countries are indispensable.

Collaboration, cooperation and partnership are the keys.

Again, CPOPC is the ideal platform to underpin the current and further growth of global palm oil industry. CPOPC has to be empowered to serve the interests of the oil palm cultivating countries to deliver its seven Charter-mandated main functions.

The forecasted supply and demand message have contributed to sensitize the market. I recommend CPOPC to continue playing its very useful role in this regard. Combined with other favorable efforts and policies in Indonesia and Malaysia, we should welcome the upward price trend which is very likely to continue into 2020.

One of such policies is the decision of my government to launch the 30 percent biodiesel blend (B30) program effective starting early 2020. The program aims to further boost domestic biodiesel consumption, envisaged to absorb over 9 million KL more CPO. At the same time the policy will reduce dependence on fossil fuel, reduce greenhouse gas emission, strengthen energy security, and have a multiplier effect on the economy.

In a concerted mode, Malaysia is preparing for B20 next year. This biodiesel policy of Indonesia and Malaysia is just an example that CPOPC can be a body for member countries to jointly run a supply and demand management of palm oil. With that, we can ensure price stabilization and remunerative price.

Under the Charter, CPOPC is also entrusted contribute to sustainability standards and practices of palm oil. I call upon CPOPC to also play its role in gaining international recognition on the progress made by palm oil producing countries.

The objective is for our respective certification scheme like Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) will eventually be accepted by consuming countries.

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As mandated in the first MMPOPC in Bali, promoting the positive and objective perspectives on palm oil should be of paramount importance to us. Notwithstanding visible and measurable progress made, anti-palm oil campaign keeps mounting its tactics and attacks.

The dominant narratives mainly stem from environmental, health, and social justice issues. They are all too familiar to us.

But the question is how to raise the awareness of all palm oil producing countries and to consolidate them in addressing this systematic, undermining smear campaign.

Not only our communication needs clear sustained strategy, but it needs also workable programs and funds to fight the black and negative campaigns as forceful as never before.

However, we cannot do it alone.

Collaboration with influential individuals, like-minded organizations, the academia, the media, the industry in producing and consuming countries, to name a few, is indispensable.

The systematic challenges against palm oil will continue regardless. I suggest that CPOPC can play a leading role for this purpose. 

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Before concluding, allow me to reiterate my conviction that CPOPC is the home for all palm oil producing countries from Africa, to Central and Latin America, and to the Asia Pacific.

There are more good reasons for all producing countries to be part of this joint vision and joint efforts. Let us serve our common interests, while at the same time to tailor the particular needs of each and every producing country.

Thank you