The UK and Malaysia have enjoyed 65 years of diplomatic relations since the Federation of Malaya’s independence in 1957. This year also marked the 70th year of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II acceded to the throne of the British monarch.
As we are all aware, Her Majesty The Queen is the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years of service to the people of the United Kingdom, the Realms and the Commonwealth.2. Our partnership is founded firmly on common values :
• Respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of all nations
• Mutual respect and benefit
• A commitment to rules-based trade and to low-carbon development to tackle climate change
• Respect and promotion of the rule of law and human rights
• Advancement of international law and multilateralism and the promotion of peace, security and prosperity in line with the United Nations and Commonwealth Charters3.
The UK is Malaysia 19th largest trading partner. In 2021, the total trade of goods and services for both countries accounted for £5.2 billion. Malaysian export of agricultural commodities (Palm Oil, Rubber, Timber, Cocoa and Pepper) contributed to 14% of the total trade, valued at £734 million. This agriculture trade export has shown an increase of 17% compared to 2020, which is £628 million.
As the UK has shown interest in ensuring that agricultural commodities entering the UK are sustainably sourced, Malaysia has been working closely with the UK to ensure that the voice of producing countries like Malaysia are heard and any new laws to be enacted that may affect the trade exchanges are in line with the spirit of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG) as a whole – economically, socially and environmentally.
We also showed our support during UK’s Presidency of the 26th Conference of Parties (COP 26) last year and contributed to the Glasgow Declaration on Forests and Land used. In relation to that, we are committed to strengthening our cooperation through the Forest, Agriculture and Commodities Trade Dialogue (FACT Dialogue) where we were tasked as the co-facilitators for the Smallholder Support Working Group.Malaysia’s Sustainability Efforts in Commodities
Sustainability has always been the central theme of Malaysia’s economic policy direction throughout the years from the National Economic Policy (NEP) in the 1970s, New Economic Model (NEM) in 2009, Vision 2020 and the latest Shared Prosperity Vision 2030.
Sustainability has always been associated with deforestation. However, it is crucial to note that sustainability is more than just forests. The United Nations’ definition of sustainability is clear: social and economic sustainability is on an equal plane with environmental. So, the Malaysian Government is also focused on supporting small farmers and their economic communities. Among the initiatives includes developing infrastructure, granting financial assistance where needed, and protecting the ability of small farmers to earn a living.
Our sustainability practices recognises how these issues are interconnected and requires a systematic approach. MPIC stands guided by the action plans of the UNSDGs blueprint, particularly on:• Goal 1 (No Poverty)• Goal 2 (Zero Hunger)• Goal 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth)• Goal 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure)• Goal 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production)• Goal 15 (Life on Land) • Goal 17 (Partnerships to achieve the Goal)9. Taking an example from the palm oil industry, I want to stress that the Malaysian palm oil industry now focuses on improving productivity and yields rather than expanding land for cultivation.
Forest protection is a priority for our government. Malaysia also assures the world that it will not retreat from its 1992 Earth Summit pledge on sustainable development – it will keep at least 50% of its total land area under permanent forest. Malaysia has also committed to plant ‘1 million forest trees species within the next ten (10) years’.
Another important measure taken by the Malaysian Government through the Ministry of Plantation Industries and Commodities (MPIC) is the introduction of the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil Certification (MSPO) in 2015, which was made mandatory starting from January 2020. The MSPO Certification Scheme ensures that Malaysian palm oil is sustainably produced and safe for consumption. It also seeks to reduce the industry’s social and environmental impacts and help independent smallholders certify their palm oil for the export market. In addition, the certification ensures the country’s palm oil industry complies with international sustainability requirements encompassing the whole supply chain, from growers and millers to traders and retailers.11.MPIC through the National Agri-commodity’s Strategic Plan is also committed to ensure that other commodities will have their own certification systems in the future. -UTV Media Msia