The possibility of a ban on all Belgian milk and dairy products entering Indonesia is gaining traction among leading political figures in the country following Belgium’s proposed palm oil biofuels ban, according to an Indonesian Palm Oil Association blog.

A ban on Belgian dairy products had been publicly recommended by International Trade Committee member Dr Herman Khaeron on the official Indonesian Parliament website, according to the blog.

His comments followed an April announcement by Belgian minister of environment and climate, Zakia Khattabi, that biofuels made from palm oil would be banned from entering Belgium from mid-2022.

In his statement, Dr Khaeron, who has also served as deputy chairman of the Parliament’s Agriculture Committee, said Belgium’s decision was “an act of trade protectionism”.

“This will directly harm palm oil small farmers across Indonesia… Indonesia should consider a reciprocal ban on Belgian exports, for example milk and dairy products produced by Belgian farmers, also starting in 2022,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) said it had sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Belgium on 24 May regarding the country’s proposed palm oil ban.

In its letter, the CPOPC said that the proposal would undermine the progress being made by palm oil producing countries in complying with certification schemes and would be counter to the European Union’s (EU) Common Agricultural Policy to promote the cultivation of oilseeds for biofuels.

“The Council suspects that the EU and some member states are merely using the environment as a guise for protectionism, which is set to undermine the traditional trade between Belgium and palm oil producing countries,” the letter added.

The CPOPC said it would welcome the withdrawal of the proposed ban. However, if the proposal was enforced, it would be reasonable for CPOPC member governments to review the sustainability of Belgian agricultural commodities that they imported.

In 2019, Indonesia imported over US$109M (€90M) of milk and dairy products from Belgium, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade.