Switzerland against palm oil

Switzerland against palm oil

Oil palm plantations have been spreading at an incredible rate in Malaysia for years. Since Bruno Manser's disappearance, the area of monocultures planted with oil palms in the Malaysian state of Sarawak has tripled.

Malaysia is the world's largest producer of palm oil, alongside Indonesia. For the annual production of 20 million tonnes of Malaysian palm oil, the palm oil plantations continue to expand over an area of more than 300 football pitches per day. The oil palm plantations not only destroy valuable rainforests but in many cases also deprive the local population of their livelihood and their rights to their land. In Sarawak alone, dozens of land rights cases are added every year, in which the affected local population files a lawsuit against invading Malaysian palm oil companies. Despite this, Switzerland obtains a substantial proportion of its palm oil from Malaysia.

Since 2012, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) has been negotiating a free trade agreement with Malaysia under the leadership of Switzerland. The problem with the planned agreement is palm oil: the agreement would entail a reduction in customs duties on palm oil, thus making the harmful oil even cheaper. This would, of course, give Malaysia an additional incentive to continue clearing valuable rainforests for plantations in the future.

The good news: thanks to our broad-based campaign, free trade in Malaysian palm oil has been prevented to date! The crux of the matter remains the palm oil problem. In the agreement with Indonesia, we were also able to prevent free trade in palm oil - a complete reduction in customs duties on palm oil was prevented. However, the text of the agreement with Indonesia provides for a tariff reduction of 20-40% on a certain quantity of palm oil. The resistance against the agreement with Indonesia therefore remains to this day and, thanks to the referendum that has been held, the people will have the final say and decide at the ballot box whether they want to agree to cheaper palm oil or not.

Further information:

- Video - The Mulu Land Grab - How palm oil destroys rainforests in Malaysia

- Fact sheet on small farmers in Malaysia and Indonesia

- Fact sheet on RSPO (Roundtable on sustainable palm oil)

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