Indonesia threatens retaliation over EU palm oil ‘intimidation’

Updated 24 March 2019
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Indonesia threatens retaliation over EU palm oil ‘intimidation’

  • Earlier this week, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, warned that if the EU implements a ban on palm oil imports, Indonesia would retaliate strongly with possible bans on European products
  • Indonesia and Malaysia together produce about 85 percent of the world’s palm oil

JAKARTA: Biofuel producers in Indonesia called on the Indonesian government and European Union to find a “win-win solution” to a dispute over an EU legislation that will phase out palm oil-based biofuel manufacturing in the bloc, risking jobs and billions of dollars in Indonesia's revenue.
Earlier this week, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, warned that if the EU implements a ban on palm oil imports, Indonesia would retaliate strongly with possible bans on European products, including passengers jets, train coaches, and motor vehicles.
“We want a win-win solution. Retaliation is not a favorable option but, eventually, what else can we do? It could become necessary if we keep being intimidated,” said Master Parulian Tumanggor, chairman of the Indonesia’s Biodiesel Producers Association.
“If they stop biofuel, millions (of workers and farmers) will become unemployed. We don’t want that,” he added.
Pandjaitan said that with Indonesia’s aviation industry expected to expand threefold by 2034, the country will require about 2,500 aircraft in the next two decades — a big market for European companies.
Aircraft demand from Indonesia is worth more than $40 billion and it will create millions of jobs.
“It’s a matter of survival. If they treat us like this, we will retaliate strongly. We are not a poor country, we are a developing country and we have a big potential,” Pandjaitan said in a briefing with the EU ambassador to Indonesia, Vincent Guerend, and European investors.
Darmin Nasution, chief economic minister, said Indonesia is considering a challenge to the EU legislation via the World Trade Organization, and will seek support from the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Indonesia and Malaysia together produce about 85 percent of the world’s palm oil.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi spoke with her Malaysian counterpart, Saifuddin Abdullah, on the sidelines of Organization of Islamic Cooperation emergency meeting in Istanbul on Friday.
“We agreed to work together to fight against discrimination of palm oil in the EU,” she said via Twitter.
Nasution said palm oil contributed $17.89 billion to Indonesia’s economy in 2018 and almost 20 million workers depended on the plantations for their livelihood.
On March 13 the European Commission adopted new rules on biofuels based on sustainability criteria with a two-month scrutiny period. The EU said “best available scientific data” show palm oil plantations are a major cause of deforestation and climate change.
Palm oil plantations in Indonesia have resulted in massive deforestation on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan.
Guerend acknowledged the importance of palm oil to Indonesia in terms of jobs, but said that there was some flexibility in the regulation.
“It will be further modified in a few years’ time. It’s not cast in stone forever as the industry is dynamic, expanding, and reforming, and we take that into account,” he said.
“Our invitation for everyone is to work on sustainability because it’s in everybody’s interest,” he added.


Kim Jong Un visits war memorial following summit with Putin

Updated 19 min 15 sec ago
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Kim Jong Un visits war memorial following summit with Putin

  • Kim criticized Washington for taking a “unilateral attitude in bad faith” at his February meeting with President Donald Trump
  • Putin indicated that he might be willing to play a bigger role in breaking the stalemate over Washington’s push for denuclearization and Kim’s demands for sanctions relief

VLADIVOSTOK, Russia: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un paid his respects at a ceremony honoring the war dead Friday to wrap up a brief and generally successful visit to the Russian Far East for his first summit with President Vladimir Putin.
Kim arrived about two hours later than expected at a park near the headquarters of the Russian navy’s Pacific Fleet for the wreath-laying ceremony.
Wearing a black suit and a fedora, he followed two goose-stepping Russian soldiers carrying a plate of red flowers with his name spelled out in Korean in gold colors on a red ribbon. Kim then laid flowers, took off his hat and bowed as a Russian military band played music, including North Korea’s national anthem.
Kim was expected to return to Pyongyang later Friday by private train.
Following their talks on Thursday, Putin indicated that he might be willing to play a bigger role in breaking the stalemate over Washington’s push for denuclearization and Kim’s demands for sanctions relief.
He said he would be willing to share details with the United States about his summit with Kim and suggested that Kim is willing to give up nuclear weapons, but only if he gets ironclad security guarantees supported by a multinational agreement.
Kim criticized Washington for taking a “unilateral attitude in bad faith” at his February meeting with President Donald Trump in Hanoi said that has caused the diplomatic standstill, North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said Friday. He also told Putin the situation on the Korean Peninsula has reached a “critical point” and whether it returns to tensions will “entirely depend on the US future attitude.”
The agency said Putin credited Kim’s diplomatic initiatives for stabilizing the situation surrounding the peninsula and accepted Kim’s invitation to visit North Korea at a “convenient time.”
No specific measures coming out of the summit have been reported by either side. After meeting Kim, Putin later headed for a two-day trip to Beijing, where he said he will inform the Chinese leadership about the summit.
The leaders’ comments suggest there has been no significant shift in Kim’s position.
North Korea has all along contended that it needs its nuclear arsenal to defend itself against what it sees as US hostility and wants concrete reassurances of its safety — including the removal of the American nuclear threat as an integral part of the denuclearization of the entire Korean Peninsula.
Along with a statement of political support, Kim was also looking for some kind of economic support and possibly even a workaround to sanctions that will force more than 10,000 North Korean laborers in Russia to leave by the end of the year. The laborers are a major source of income for Pyongyang.
Putin said they discussed the issue and would find a solution taking into account “humanitarian” factors, though he didn’t say what that would be.