This past week, outgoing British High Commissioner to Malaysia Charles Hay made departing remarks where he praised palm oil, effective diplomacy, Malaysia’s global and domestic efforts on eliminating deforestation, and the close partnership the two nations have enjoyed during his tenure representing the U.K. in Kuala Lumpur.

Hay expressed how palm oil has allowed the U.K. to gain “insights into Malaysia’s efforts to enhance sustainability and productivity in the industry, including comparisons with other oil crops,” and credited it for prompting “discussions aimed at deepening understanding” between the two nations.

Hay also highlighted how the U.K.’s entry into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) – which included the elimination of the U.K.’s tariffs on Malaysian palm oil – “presents opportunities for both countries while protecting the interests of British investors and fostering fair and beneficial trade agreements.”

These efforts have prompted the U.K. to become more “entrenched” in their post-Brexit tilt towards ASEAN while enjoying a “profound” and “deeply intertwined” relationship with Malaysia, Hay concluded.

Malaysia Meets EUDR Requirements, MPOC Says

Writing in Malaysia’s New Straits Times, MPOC CEO Belvinder Sron discussed how, despite the EUDR’s “costly and wide-ranging set of criteria”, the Malaysian palm oil sector is well-equipped to meet the Regulation’s requirements – largely thanks to the government certification standard, MSPO.

Ms. Sron writes, MSPO is the most “important factor in Malaysian exporters’ ability to meet the EUDR requirements,” adding “96 per cent of all plantations in Malaysia” were already MSPO certified. MSPO is also “more inclusive and accessible to smallholders, who form the backbone of the oil palm industry in Malaysia” she shared.

Malaysia is Not High-Risk

Another key concern is the EU’s forthcoming proposed labelling of countries that it considers “high risk” for deforestation. “It is evident to any reasonable observer that Malaysia — and any subnational authority — cannot seriously be considered high risk,” noted Ms. Sron, adding that a high percentage of Malaysia’s oil palm plantations have, since 1990, been planted on “land converted from other crops as farmers have switched to oil palm for higher yields and financial returns.”

Malaysia is now a “global leader in forest protection” noted Ms. Sron, who highlighted Malaysia’s 55 per cent forest cover and reduction in total planted area of oil palm plantations.

She then called for “transparency of input and criteria” about the risk designations and a “public commitment” from the EU that neither Malaysia, or any of its subnational authorities or exports, will be labelled as “high risk” under the EUDR.

Overall, the outlook for Malaysia and compliance with the EUDR is “promising,” noted Ms. Sron, who concluded with a piece of advice for EU officials: “Diplomacy means engaging and acknowledging the progress that has been made. Malaysia trusts that its concerns will be addressed, and palm oil trade will continue without any further barriers.”

Malaysia’s Effective Zero Deforestation Rate Confirmed

Malaysia’s deforestation rate is effectively zero. A new report from the World Resource Institute’s (WRI) confirms these developments.

WRI’s report revealed that Malaysia is in the top 5 countries for reducing deforestation rates, and praised the nation for “positive government action” and “certified sustainably grown palm oil.”

Efforts such as Malaysia’s “NDPE” and plantation area cap policies as well as MSPO were credited for being key drivers of Malaysia’s success, proving that “the commitment to the greater protection of rainforests and the sustainability of palm oil has been a persistent priority.”