KUALA LUMPUR: The European Commission (EC), Indonesia, and Malaysia have agreed to set up a joint task force to strengthen the cooperation on the implementation of the EU Deforestation Regulation (EUDR), which will hold its first meeting in the first week of August 2023.

Indonesia and Malaysia agreed that the joint task force with the EC will focus on the relevant commodities in both countries in particular palm oil, wood, rubber, coffee, and cocoa, said the Council of Palm Producing Countries (CPOPC) in a joint statement today.

The joint task force comprises government representatives and stakeholders from both countries, including commodities associations, smallholders, workers associations, and civil society organisations, to enhance dialogue on supply chain traceability and transparency.

The statement said that matters may be addressed based on the country-specific approach in an inclusive and transparent manner under the framework of the joint task force.

It added that the joint task force will examine the situation for relevant commodities in Indonesia and Malaysia within the scope of the EUDR for the EU market.

“All three partners will appoint a single point of entry and immediately discuss and conclude the terms of reference of the joint task force.

“With regard to palm oil, the Secretariat of CPOPC will facilitate and coordinate with the respective officials in Indonesia and Malaysia, together with the Directorate-General for the Environment of the European Commission to ensure the progress and advancement of the joint task force to achieve the desired outcomes and a win-win solution for the successful implementation of the regulation by all parties,” said the statement.

To recap, the task force is a result of a mission jointly led by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Plantation and Commodities of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, and Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia, Airlangga Hartarto.

Facilitated by the CPOPC, it was conducted to meet with the political leaders of the EU in Brussels at the end of last month.

In the meetings, both ministers expressed concerns with the newly legislated EUDR. They reiterated the importance of commodities, particularly palm oil, to the economy and the well-being of its people in both countries, in particular toward smallholders.

The EC underlined that its policies respond to joint international commitments. The main objective would be to ensure that Europe would not drive global deforestation through its own consumption.

Moreover, the EU reassured the producing countries that they would continue to be engaged during the process.

Executive Vice President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, and the Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans, and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevicius agreed to the establishment of a consultative engagement process with both Indonesia and Malaysia to discuss ways and practical means of the implementation of EUDR.

As a follow-up to the joint mission, the Director-General for the Environment of the European Commission, Dr Florika Fink-Hooijer, visited Indonesia and Malaysia.

She met with Deputy Minister for Food and Agribusiness, the Coordinating Ministry for Economic Affairs, Indonesia, Musdhalifah Mahmud, and representatives of the government of Indonesia on June 27, and Fadillah and representatives of the government of Malaysia on June 28.

The meetings resulted in an agreement to establish a joint task force. - Bernama