DR Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia will consider restricting imports of French products should Paris press ahead with “discriminatory” plans to ban the use of palm oil in biofuels, reports Reuters.
In a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron dated January 8, the prime minister called for the proposed ban to be rejected, saying the countries’ trade relationship is reliant on mutual respect for each other’s commodities.
“Failing in that mutual respect will force Malaysia to look at actions, including, but not limited to, the suspension of European Union-Malaysia free trade talks and the imposition of like-minded legislation against French exports,” said Dr Mahathir in the letter.
He warned that France’s move could lead to “regrettable economic and trade consequences” for exporters of both nations.
Dr Mahathir, describing the French plans as discriminatory, said palm oil is not responsible for deforestation – a major concern among critics of the commodity.
A Prime Minister’s Office spokesman and Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok have confirmed the authenticity of the letter, said the report.
Last month, French MPs voted to remove palm oil from the country’s biofuel scheme by 2020, following European lawmakers’ support of measures to limit the use of palm oil in biofuels before implementing a ban in 2030.
Environmentalists have blamed the palm oil industry for deforestation, and the displacement of wildlife and indigenous groups.
Malaysia is the second-biggest exporter of palm oil. The country and Indonesia jointly produce 90% of global supply.