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Indonesia slams France's progressive palm oil import tax

Staff writer |
Indonesia has again voiced out against a plan by the French government to impose progressive import taxes for palm oil starting from 2017.

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Indonesia said the move is "discriminating "and "unreasonable," a top government official has said.

The French Senate approved a biodiversity billion on January 21 that included a palm oil tax hike of 300 euros ($327) per ton in 2017 from what's currently 103 euros per ton, which would later increase annually to reach 900 euros per ton by 2020, according to Arif Havas Oegroseno, a deputy in charge of maritime sovereignty at the Coordinating Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Natural Resource.

The deputy, who recently met with the French ambassador in order to deliver the government's concerns, claimed the French government is giving unequal treatment to palm oil as it is imposing the regulation on rapeseed oil, sunflower oil and soy oil that's produced there.

"This could be just a way for France to protect their vegetable-based oils, which would be a violation of the World Trade Organization in the 1994 general tarrif and trade article 2 paragraph 3, as well as the internal regulation of the European Union market article 110," Arif said.

The progressive tax would also show a backwards move compared to the Amsterdam Declaration on Global Change — a pledge signed by France, the Netherlands, among other countries, in 2002 to support sustainable palm oil that's environmentally friendly and without deforestation — since it would "punish" Indonesia's palm oil with high taxes, according to Arif.

Instead of higher taxes, he said that Indonesia should be given incentives for its efforts to foster a sustainable palm oil industry.

Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas, said France's unreasonable tax that would be implemented from next year clearly intended to kill the palm oil industry.

He said this at a press conference together with Indonesian Coordinating Minister of Maritime and Resources, Rizal Ramli, after the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries' (CPOPC) meeting.