Indonesia is Still Struggling with The Neocolonialism that Inhibit Palm Oil
The atmosphere of the celebration of Indonesia’s independence day can still be felt even though we have arrived at the end of August this year. The euphoria of the celebration is also interpreted by recalling the struggle of the proclaimers and heroes to achieve independence after approximately 350 years of being colonized by foreign nations who tormented all Indonesian people.
Even though Indonesia has become an independent country and free from the shackles of colonialism, in this era, Indonesia is also still facing a new style of colonialism (neocolonialism) which is different from the colonialism of 75 years ago. “Neocolonialism” is not interpreted literally, but means that there are obstacles for Indonesia to become a global player in a vegetable oil market and achieve optimalization of Indonesian welfare.
Since 2006, when Indonesia has succeeded in becoming the largest producer of palm oil in the world as well as being the largest producer of vegetable oil and being able to shift the dominance of soybean oil and rapeseed oil in the global market, more intensive of neocolonialism faced by the Indonesian palm oil industry. Western countries such as the European Union and the United States, which are also producers of rapeseed oil and soybean oil, through their policies appear to be hampering palm oil exports to their countries.
One of the policies that is still a hot topic of discussion for palm oil industry players at the national and global levels is the RED II ILUC policy issued by the European Union Commission. In this policy, the EU set a target by 2030 of 32 percent of the use of renewable energy, with 14 percent of the use of renewable energy in the transportation sector. The use of first biofuel generation (biodiesel raw material/feedstock which can also be used as food/feed) is classified as high indirect land use change risk will be drastically reduced since 2020 and must be eliminated (zero percent) by 2030.
ILUC (Indirect Land Use Change) referred to in the policy, if the production process of feedstock/biofuel raw materials (including biodiesel) causes the food/feed area to decrease (as a result of being converted to production area for biofuel raw materials) and triggers the conversion of forest or land with high stock of carbon into food/feed land. To determine which biofuels should be reduced or eliminated is based on ILUC emission criteria for feedstock will be regulated in the Delegated Regulation of ILUC-RED II.
The policy is considered to discriminate against palm oil. This is because according to the indicators used in the ILUC Delegated Regulation, palm oil is classified as a high risk Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) so that palm oil must be phase out in the use of European biodiesel. This means that the European Commission considers that the negative impact arising from the indirect conversion of forest land into land for biodiesel feedstock is considered a “sin” for oil palm plants and palm oil producers must be held responsible for this.
To fight discrimination against palm oil by the European Commission, the Indonesian government filed a lawsuit against the WTO as a trade organization at the international level. Minister of Trade, Agus Suparmanto, sent a letter requesting consultation as the initial stage of the lawsuit which was sent on December 2019 to the European Union. The lawsuit is a form of the seriousness of the Indonesian government about discrimination against palm oil which is considered incompatible with WTO principles, because the impact that it causes is very large, namely inhibiting the export of Indonesian palm oil and biodiesel to European countries and giving a bad image to palm oil and its derivative products.
On the #PalmINATalk Webinar, Hasan Kleib, Ambassador/Permanent Representative of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations, WTO and other international organizations in Geneva, revealed that apart from ILUC policies, Indonesia also sued the European Union’s policies which were considered to discriminate against palm oil, namely the Commission Delegated Regulation and French Fuel Tax. He’s also said that the request for negotiation submitted by the Indonesian government did not produce results even the panel submission was also rejected by the European Union Commission.
After was delayed due to the Covid pandemic, the latest update regarding Indonesia’s lawsuit against the European Union has been stage of formation of a panel by the WTO or a request for establishment of a panel which indicates that RED II’s lawsuit will enter the adjudication stage. At this stage the panel will produce a decision that the applicant can accept as well as the respondent makes.
However, until now there has been no more recent update regarding Indonesia’s lawsuit on palm oil discrimination by the European Union Commission. Even so, we, as Indonesians who are known to be strong and never give up, must be optimistic about winning the lawsuit. The accusation by the European Union regarding palm biodiesel is not new, even a similar lawsuit has occurred in 2013 and the lawsuit was won by Indonesia.
Once again, the independence of the Republic of Indonesia must also be interpreted as a form of collective struggle for all Indonesian people against the injustice of colonialism. This spirit must still relevant with current condition and also be possessed by all levels of the Indonesian people, including the government, business actors, NGOs, the press, students, researchers, educators and the general public, to fight together and be united in “one language” in carrying out positive palm oil campaigns and defending the interests of palm oil from the interference of the neocolonialism, given the large contribution of palm oil and its derivative products to the economy and welfare of the Indonesian nation.
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