- Indonesian Ambassador says EUDR “Smacks of Colonialism”
- Brussels Shift Goalposts: Pushes Jurisdictional Approach in Flashback to FLEGT
- CPTPP-Palm Critics Diminish Prospects
Indonesian Ambassador: EUDR “Smacks of Colonialism”
Indonesia’s Ambassador to Germany has openly asked if the EUDR constitutes a new form of colonization.
The reasoning? The vast troves of data that will be submitted to the EU based on literally millions of locations, crops, harvest rates and more – something that POM alluded to two weeks ago.
Ambassador Arif Havas Oegroseno states:
“The EUDR does not provide a legal basis for the protection of data privacy of millions of hectares from foreign farmers, and this data is at the risk of arbitrary use by the EU, including selling it to a third party of sharing it with difference countries for many purposes, including intelligence.”
“Forcing foreign farmers to surrender their data privacy to the EU is a violation of fundamental human rights, even with the EU’s own standards.”
This culminates with a simple question:
“Realizing that the Global South and its smallholder farmers are being targeted by the EUDR, the nagging question is: Does the EU want to recolonize them again? … The EUDR endangers trust-building between the EU and the Global South. Not to mention the smack of colonialism.”
Brussels Shift Goalposts: Pushes Jurisdictional Approach in Flashback to FLEGT
The European Union is changing its story on how it will approach the implementation of the Deforestation Regulation.
Sources across producer countries had been told late last year that the Deforestation Regulation would definitely not be including a ‘Jurisdictional Approach’. The Jurisdictional Approach would require subnational jurisdictions, e.g. states or provinces, to be treated differently to the rest of an exporting country under the regulation, with potentially a different risk profile.
However, within the past month sources have indicated that the Commission is re-floating this idea.
This begs the question: Is the Regulation in chaos?
There are two possibilities. Either: the EU is stuck on how to implement the regulation; or they are giving different stakeholders different sets of information – a divide and conquer strategy – aiming to lessen the intense backlash Brussels is receiving.
It’s worth noting that the Jurisdictional Approach has been at the heart of the EU’s failed KAMI project, which falsely claimed that the project’s approach would assist palm oil exporters meet the EU regulations.
Is it possible that the Commission will try to revive KAMI as a carrot for exporters? Perhaps, but here’s the problem: the Regulation states that levels of cooperation will determine how countries will be classified for risk. This will be problematic for implementation, but will also create resistance at the exporter end.
Here’s an example: when the European Union was attempting to negotiate a FLEGT agreement (or VPA) with Malaysia, the EU pushed for a separate agreement for Sarawak and Sabah.
This was a bruising experience for both sides – and something that won’t be lost on the Deputy Prime Minister (whom hails from Sarawak) and the ministry’s senior staff, who will be looking at the problems presented for timber, rubber and palm oil.
The EU is also likely underestimating the experience – and residual bitterness – Malaysia’s timber sector has dealing with EU trade bans. If in doubt, read this speech from 1992.
CPTPP-Palm Critics Diminish Prospects
Over the past week there have been numerous NGOs and anti-palm campaign groups in the UK decrying the entry of the UK into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) free trade deal. The point of contention? Lower tariffs for palm oil as part of the deal.
It’s not surprising that environmental groups are making statements criticising the tariff drop: they don’t understand trade policy. Tariffs have never been used for environmental outcomes, because they rarely have that effect.
Let’s take a scenario. If we doubled the tariffs on Malaysian palm oil in the UK, what would happen? Simple: it would come from somewhere else, like Papua New Guinea, which has a zero percent tariff on palm oil going to the UK. What would happen to the Malaysian palm oil? It would go to other markets. What would happen to Malaysian production processes? Precisely nothing.
The problem with this sort of breathless reporting is twofold. First, it hasn’t changed in 15 years, despite numerous NGOs, forest economists and even conservationists pointing out that using trade measures such as bans will be even more destructive.
Second, it potentially diminishes the UK globally. Let’s say CPTPP’s UK accession gets undone by a noisy set of narrow interests. The UK then becomes known as an unreliable negotiating partner, not just in Southeast Asia, but in Japan, Canada and Mexico. And a diminished global presence is something the UK cannot afford.