Contesting Scientific Facts, RI Promoted the Benefits of Palm Oil in Switzerland

Bern, Switzerland: In the midst of non-tariff trade barriers, discrimination, and black campaigns against palm oil, the joint Indonesian  delegation promotes palm oil to business communities in Switzerland. The promotion was held in the form of an Indonesia Business Forum "Sustainable Palm Oil in the Global Market" at Zunfthaus zur Meisen Building, Zurich (28/9).

Facilitated by the Indonesian Embassy in Bern-Switzerland, the delegation comprising  the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC), the Indonesian Biofuel Producers Association (APROBI), Indonesian Palm Oil Estate Fund Agency (BPDP-KS), the Indonesian Vegetable Oil Industry Association (GIMNI), (GIMNI), Indonesian Crude Oil  Industry Association (AIMMI), and Indonesian Palm Oil Entrepreneurs Association (GAPK I).

The delegation promoted the goodness of palm oil and counteracted black campaigns with scientific facts in the presence of some 50 (fifty) representatives of leading Swiss members of the Asian Chamber of Commerce (SACC), such as Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund, Syngenta Crop Protection AG, Nutriswiss AG, of Swiss Chocolate Manufacturers.

"Palm oil is God's blessing tropical countries, because it only grows at about 10 degrees north or south of the equator," said Mahendra Siregar, Executive Director of the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC).

"No wonder Indonesia controls about 55 percent of world palm production or far away Malaysia which is only 29 percent," he added.

Palm produces 4-10 times more oil per hectare compared with other vegetable oil commodities, such as rapeseed oil and sunflower oil which are typical European commodities. In many European countries, palm  oil faces the challenge of black campaigning and rejection from several organizations for various reasons, from deforestation, ecosystems to corruption and human rights abuses.

Director General of International Trade - the Ministry of Trade, Oke Nurwan, who also spoke at the Indonesia Business Forum in Zurich, said, "To improve competitiveness and to respond to the challenges of international trade, the Government of Indonesia has required the certification of Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) since 2011 by involving government representatives, NGOs, academics, and businesses. "

The Most Certifications

The same thing was also confirmed by Paulus Tjakrawan of the Indonesian Biofuel Producers Association (APROBI) that compared to other vegetables oil products, palm oil  is the only vegetable  oil with the most certifications, namely certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO), ISCC (International Sustainability & Carbon Certification ), ISPO (Indonesia Sustainable Palm Oil), and MSPO (Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil).

"Judging from the health review, palm oil is proven to have higher vitamin A and E content than other vegetable oils, but it contains lower cholesterol," said Harry Hanawi from the Indonesian Oleofood Industry Association (AIMMI). "In other words, a negative charge against palm oil is merely a business competition strategy from a competitor country."

Barbara Möckli-Schneider from Swiss Switzerland Asia Chamber of Commerce (SACC) admitted to get a very comprehensive enlightenment about palm oil which has been a  negative tendency in Switzerland. Although Switzerland is not a member of the European Union (EU), but EU policy has a considerable effect on Swiss policy, given the EU is Switzerland's main trading partner.

In addition, the total ban on the use of biofuel from palm oil by Norway in June 2017 is also feared to affect Switzerland, where Switzerland along with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are members of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) that operate parallel with the EU and also engage in European single market.

Added by the Indonesian Ambassador to Switzerland, Linggawaty Hakim "Despite being in the middle of Europe, Switzerland adopted a positive approach to palm oil commodities especially from Indonesia. Instead of boycotting palm oil like Norway, Switzerland is actively channeling development assistance and coaching for sustainable production palm oil in Indonesia."

Indonesia Business Forum in Zurich was held as a series of visits of Indonesian palm oil  delegations to Switzerland for the primary purpose of breaking down barriers to non-tariff and discrimination against oil palm. Delegation, on 26-27 September 2017, also attended the World Trade Organization (WTO) public forum and a meeting with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva.

It is expected that with  holding of this event will be establish a networking and closer relationship with business circles in Switzerland. In addition, it can also improve a better understanding of palm oil and increase the export of palm oil from Indonesia to Switzerland which is still carry a large potential and opportunities. (Source: Indonesian Embassy in Bern/Yo2k)