Breakfast substitutes, detergents and toothpaste are everyday products that all use “palm oil” as a raw material. With regard to this palm oil, the conflict between Malaysia / Indonesia and the EU is still ongoing because of environment and economic problems.
Recently, bio-diesel has become regarded as an ecofriendly fuel to replace fossil fuel, and many countries and organizations including the EU have used palm oil as raw material for bio-diesel. However, a number of environmental issues that arose from the process of production have become serious problems, with the EU now withdrawing from the importing of palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia because they have not reached to the EU’s environmental standard. This sudden withdrawal of palm oil purchases from the EU could cause major economic problems as the number of people who work in palm oil-related jobs in Malaysia and Indonesia now reaches more than 55 million and now they would all be jobless.
Palm oil is one of the few vegetable oils containing very high saturated fat. Palm oil is being used in a variety of fields because of the low prices and consumption of palm oil has increased sharply in recent decades. Currently, Malaysia and Indonesia are producing 90 percent of the world’s palm oil output. However, as palm oil plantations produce palm oil after deforestation, which not only damages the jungle itself, but also creates secondary air pollution due to combustion, the EU is withdrawing palm oil import from these countries. According to research from the University of Minnesota’s Nature Conservancy, the amount of carbon emitted from deforestation and natural greenfield destruction to produce biofuel is 17 to 420 times higher than the amount of greenhouse gas reductions caused by biofuel. Therefore, this restriction was partially reasonable from an “environmental” view.
However, it may not be right to simply look at the situation from an “environmental” point of view. Some local media says that the EU, which currently shares the same position as the United States in the US-China trade war, has caused a boycott of palm oil imports to impose sanctions on arms deals between Malaysia / Indonesia and China.
The current situation for both camps is serious. In July, Indonesian President Joko Widodo promised to fight the EU’s plans, telling Bloomberg News that palm oil is a strategic commodity for Indonesia, and is now posing economic threats to the EU. However, what will eventually be damaged in these trade wars will be the workers from Malaysia and Indonesia who live day by day through palm oil production.
Park Jin-hong, Junior Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
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