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OUTCOME OF THE BILATERAL MEETINGS
BETWEEN THE MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF MALAYSIA
AND HIS EUROPEAN UNION COUNTERPARTS
21 – 23 JANUARY 2019
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dato’ Saifuddin Abdullah had bilateral meetings with his European Union (EU) counterparts and EU Parliamentarians in conjunction with his working visit to Brussels to attend the 22nd ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting (AEMM) on 21 – 23 January 2019.
Various issues of common concern were addressed during the separate meetings between Dato’ Saifuddin and the Foreign Ministers of Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Romania, Spain and the EU, as well as the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) and Vice Presidents of the European Parliament.
At the top of Malaysia’s agenda was the palm oil issue. The Foreign Minister underlined the country’s commitment to sustainable production of palm oil and sought endorsement for the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification scheme. The Foreign Minister further called on the EU and its member states to facilitate Malaysia’s development of sustainable palm oil, including disseminating accurate information and giving fair treatment to palm oil, stressing that free trade should also be a fair one.
The Foreign Minister reiterated that the Malaysian palm oil industry is dedicated to enhancing productivity and yields, rather than expanding new plantations, as claimed by some quarters in Europe. The Minister underscored MSPO’s compliance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which consider environmental, social and economic aspects comprehensively. He also reiterated that Malaysia’s ongoing cooperation with internationally recognised certification bodies, such as the International Sustainability Carbon Certification (ISCC), show that MSPO’s implementation is an integrative, rather than a stand-alone pursuit. He further took the opportunity to commend Italy for signing the Amsterdam Declarations Partnership in 2017, through which signatories declare support for sustainable palm oil in Europe.
On other issues, the Foreign Minister highlighted Malaysia’s promotion of participatory democracy based on the rule of law, pointing out that the country’s primary agendas include implementing reforms as well as enhancing human rights protection. The Minister also highlighted the humanitarian assistance extended by Malaysia to the Rohingyas, including operating a field hospital in Cox’s Bazar and providing access to education for Rohingya children in Malaysia.
The South China Sea issue was also raised and to this the Foreign Minister reiterated Malaysia’s position that the South China Sea should be free from any acts of militarisation.
25 January 2019