The European Parliament’s Industry, Research & Energy Committee’s (ITRE) decision on 28 November to endorse a proposal calling for a ban on palm oil-based biodiesel by 2021 could harm EU-Malaysia trade relations, a Malaysian minister has said.

According to Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong, the Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, the Malaysian government would be compelled to take “every necessary action” to protect the country’s oil palm farmers and the security of its palm oil sector if the EU implemented the ban, Bernama news agency wrote on 30 November.

“The move to exclude palm oil biofuels from the EU is a step backwards for EU-Malaysia trade ties,” Keong said in a statement. “Taken together with the vote from the European Environmental Committee (ENVI) in October 2017, this clearly shows the EY intentionally plans to restrict the import of palm oil biofuels.”

The minister said the EU would still allow competing oilseeds to provide feedstock for biofuels, which Malaysia viewed as an “unacceptable protectionist trade barrier and a breach of the EU’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) commitments”.

“Malaysia’s forest protection is vastly superior to that of almost every EU member state and Malaysia has one of the most advanced forest protection regimes in the world, as recognised by the United Nations and the World Bank,” he said.

The Malaysian government viewed the EU attempts to limit palm oil as “insulting and denigratory”, he added, saying that continued “false and misleading allegations” by the EU were a “clear attempt to smear the good name of Malaysian palm oil”.