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Tuesday, 06 February 2018 00:00

Through Palm Oil Diplomacy, Indonesia Attempts To Build Its Palm Oil Image

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Palm oil is Indonesia's superior product. The Central Bureau of Statistics -PBS noted that it was similar to 2016 that in 2017, Indonesia’s export of palm oil and its derivative products was still the largest foreign exchange contributor to Indonesia. Prof. Bustanul Arifin from the Faculty of Agriculture, University of Lampung predicts that up to 10 years, the volume and export value of palm oil and its derivative products will continue to increase. However, he reminds business-people and government actors that sustainability matter will continue to be an obstacle to palm oil export.

During the 40th Annual Summit of ASEAN-EU Partnership Cooperation in Manila, the Philippines on 14 November 2017, President Joko Widodo asserted before the participants of the summit that palm oil is very close to alleviating poverty in Indonesia, narrowing the gap, and building an inclusive economy..

Otherwise, the European Parliament supported the ban on the use of palm oil as environmentally friendly fuel by 2021. In fact, Europe is one of the main export destinations of Indonesian palm oil. Minister of Trade, Enggartiasto Lukita and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi said that this is a "black campaign" in Europe towards Indonesian palm oil products. The EU policy is considered discriminatory

President Joko Widodo requested that the discrimination of the EU against palm oil be stopped. A number of attitudes and policies that are considered to harm economic interests and damage the image of palm oil producing countries must also be eliminated.

Meanwhile, economic observer from the Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef), Bhima Yudhistira believes that Indonesia is still dependent on traditional markets which reach about 70% of the total export destination countries. He views that in 2018, Indonesia should find out alternative markets, such as Pakistan, South Africa and North Africa which are considered very potential.

Since 2011, Indonesia has established a policy mandating a sustainable palm oil governance and certification system so-called ‘Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil’ (ISPO). This policy is intended to improve the competitiveness of Indonesian palm oil in the global market, with more attention to environmental issues, such as greenhouse gas emissions and so on. To build the image of the palm oil products that has ISPO around the world, especially in export destination countries, Indonesian diplomats overseas must play a major role. This policy is known as palm oil diplomacy.

To support the government's efforts to carry out palm oil diplomacy, the Policy and Development Agency (BPPK) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs cooperates with Pertamina University to conduct an applicative study. The study of International Relations of Pertamina University is focused on the energy sector in Indonesia. On February 1, 2018, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the two institutions.

The BPPK of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs considers Pertamina University to be a cooperation partner in producing studies and recommendations related to Indonesia's foreign policy, including strategic commodity sectors such as palm oil.

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