Member of Commission VI of the Indonesian House of Representatives Herman Khaeron has asked Indonesia to impose a reciprocal ban on Belgian exports, following the decision of the Belgian Federal Minister of Environment and Climate Zakia Khattabi to ban biofuels made from palm oil starting in 2022.
According to him, Belgium has started a trade war, so that The Indonesian government also needs to take it seriously.
“This is an act of trade protectionism that will directly harm oil palm smallholders throughout Indonesia. Indonesia must give a strong response to this problem. The Belgian government has decided to start a trade war and this hostile act has consequences,” he said in a release received by Parliament recently.
The Democrat Party politician who also served as Chair of the Agricultural Commission recommended that milk and dairy products produced by Belgian farmers be subject to an import ban. Belgium exported nearly 100 million Euros of milk and dairy products to Indonesia in 2019.
“Indonesian palm oil is the most sustainable vegetable oil in the world today. It provides income, security, renewable energy and better livelihood opportunities for millions of smallholders across Indonesia. It is very regrettable that the Belgian Government has decided to choose conflict over cooperation,” the West Java VIII electoral district legislator criticized.
Previously stated by Zakia, oil palm causes deforestation, loss of biodiversity, and even human rights violations. However, behind this statement, the use of palm-based biofuels in Belgium in the 2019 – 2020 period has increased 10 times to 231 million liters. This means that the need for biofuel in Belgium itself is still dependent on palm oil.
Khattabi said stopping the use of palm oil and soybeans was the first step that Belgium had taken since joining the Amsterdam Declarations Partnership, an agreement that aims to eliminate deforestation related to agricultural commodities by 2025.
Belgium joins Denmark, France and the Netherlands as European countries banning palm oil-based bio-diesel because they think palm oil contributes to the large-scale conversion of native forests and peatlands for industrial plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia.
“This is the first step to stop the negative environmental impact of biofuel policies . The federal government will also reduce the demand for (bio) fuels with a focus on rail and electricity transportation, ”said Khattabi as quoted by Brussels. (er/sf)
Belgium took a wise decision.
Biofuels are not a sustainable option. The biofuel production model is based on intensive agriculture, deforestation and soil degradation.
There’s also fraud regarding biofuels feedstock in Europe; for instance they mix palm oil with used cooking oils.
US is the biggest biofuel “driver” and the US army is the biggest biofuel user (they’ve adapted the army trucks to drive on biofuels).
This US biofuel scheme is a government mechanism to support US farmers. It’s not driven by “sustainability” but by “national economic interests”. These are like hidden subsidies.
Coming back to Indonesia …
Do you think there may be a link between Indonesian palm oil plantations and criminal organisations?
Do you think human right abuses happen on those palm oil plantations?
Do you think the European Commission should intervene and warn Indonesia that a ban on Belgian products will lead to EU sanctions against Indonesia?