France seeks freeze on palm oil use, imports

Pablo Tucker
June 13, 2018

Lambert, who said unions wanted assurances that France would defend its farmers' interests more robustly in Brussels, signalled protests could resume if talks with the government did not yield enough.

The strikes have led to a further worsening of relations between the country's agricultural sector and President Emmanuel Macron's government.

According to FNSEA head Christiane Lambert, the protest is aimed at exerting pressure on French authorities over recent trade deals that would give a green light to imports of meat, sugar and ethanol from states "that do not respect the same conditions of production as French products".

It said on Monday morning the blockade by farmers had not had an impact on operations.

French farmers began a blockade of at least 14 oil refineries and depots belonging to energy company Total on Sunday evening.

Agriculture Minister, Stephane Travert, said today that the occupation of refineries and deposits is illegal, and ruled out that this will cause a shortage of fuel in the country.

"This proposal is a betrayal of promises made by the French Government, and others in Europe, to the people of Malaysia", they said in a statement sent by Faces of Palm Oil lobby group.

He also denied the possibility of reverting the authorization given to Total to import palm oil, although he agreed to receive the guild representatives tomorrow.

Hulot had said past year France would take steps to restrict the use of palm oil in producing biofuels in order to reduce deforestation in the countries of origin, without detailing the measures.

Palm oil is cheaper than rapeseed oil as a feedstock for biodiesel and French farmers say its growing use has added to their longstanding competitive disadvantage because of high taxes and strict environmental regulations in France.

France has said it would oppose a full European Union ban but junior ecology minister Sebastien Lecornu said on Monday Paris wanted to cap and progressively cut palm oil imports.

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