The United Kingdom’s Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC) has officially confirmed that Malaysia’s standards to prevent deforestation – called the MSPO – are equivalent to the UK’s. The MSPO scheme, shorthand for “Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO)” Certification Scheme is the national scheme in Malaysia for palm oil plantations, independent and organised smallholdings, and palm oil processing facilities to be certified.
The importance of this is that this served as a key reason for the UK to be allowed access to the new transpacific CPTPP trade arrangement, which involves countries generating 15 percent of global GDP.
Exciting News Alert!
Sustainable Malaysian Palm Oil continues to make waves globally, as the UK's Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC) recognises Malaysian palm oil as #sustainable. Here are 3 key takeaways:..
1) #MSPO: A Gold Standard: CEO of MPOC, Belvinder Sron, …1/5
— Malaysian Palm Oil Council (@mpocHQ) February 7, 2024
According to the United Kingdom’s Trade and Agriculture Commission (TAC), “it is expected that most Malaysian palm oil production will be certified against the MSPO standard by 1 January 2025, which is around the time that the Government anticipates the UK will accede to CPTPP”. As a result, “The risk that CPTPP would lead to an increase in imports of palm oil from deforested land has been determined to be low.”
It thereby has specified that:
“In Malaysia, palm oil products must be certified under the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification scheme, which sets out sustainability standards for all operators in the supply chain (palm oil plantatons and mills, palm oil processing facilities and palm oil dealers and traders) and is administered by the Malaysian Palm Oil Certification Council. MSPO certification became mandatory in January 2020. Malaysian palm oil operators must be certified to MSPO standard to able to obtain and maintain business licenses from the Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB), which is the government agency responsible for issuing and enforcing licences for the cultivation, producton, sale, purchase, transfer, storage, inspecton, testing, exportation, importation, and manufacture of oil palm products.
The 2013 version of the MSPO standard, against which about 98% of the Malaysian palm oil industry is currently certifed, does not contain any requirement with regards to deforestation, nor environmental protecton more generally. However, about 20% of Malaysian palm oil industry has been certified under the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) scheme, which is a global voluntary scheme and include a no-deforestaton requirement. We received evidence that RSPO-certified palm oil is very well established in the UK market, with the vast majority (at least 86% in 2022) of UK operators commited to importing only RSPO-certified palm oil.
In additon, in 2022 Malaysia adopted a revised MSPO standard, which incorporates new environmental sustainability requirements, including in relaton to deforestation, biodiversity and climate change. For deforestation, the MSPO 2022 standard prohibits the conversion of natural forests and other protected and High Conservaton Value areas for palm oil cultivation afer 31 December 2019. It is expected that most Malaysian palm oil producton will be certified against the MSPO 2022 standard by 1 January 2025, which is around the time that the UK Government anticipates the UK will accede to CPTPP. Provided that this is the case and compliance with the MPSO 2022 standard is effectively monitored and enforced, there would be a low risk that Malaysian palm oil exported to the UK would come from land that was deforested afer December 2019.
It also noted, separately:
“We have noted that Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification has become a mandatory conditon (since January 2020) for the Malaysian palm oil industry to obtain business licences, and that the new 2022 version of the MSPO standard prohibits palm oil cultivation on land cleared after December 2019. Provided this new standard is fully implemented by January 2025 and compliance with it is efectvely enforced, there is a low risk that Malaysian palm oil exported to the UK would come from land that was deforested afer December 2019.”
In conclusion, the UK Trade and Agricultural Commission stated:
“The risk that CPTPP would lead to an increase in imports of palm oil from deforested land was low for a variety of reasons: the vast majority of importers are commited to using the RSPO standard, which is deforestation-free; and for the remainder Malaysia operates a mandatory deforestation-free standard that is at least equal to the standard applied in Indonesia, which Malaysia is to some extent likely to supplant as a supplier of palm oil to the UK.»
Last year already, NGOs like Global Forest Watch have praised Malaysia’s success in reducing deforestation.
The UK’s approach contrasts with the one of the EU’, which caused tensions and even freezing of trade talks between the EU and palm oil exporting countries like Malaysia and Indonesia. The latter are strongly affected by the EU’s new deforestation rules.
Progress on slowing deforestation could boost climate efforts, say experts https://t.co/HNq0C0CfmW
— Guardian Environment (@guardianeco) August 7, 2023