Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has used a regular formal address to the Diplomatic Corps in Jakarta to remind other governments how strongly the Indonesian Government supports the palm oil industry.
Leading developed country donors (the US, the UK, the EC and the Netherlands) are major funders of NGO anti-palm oil campaigns in Southeast Asia.
In a speech to Indonesian ambassadors and diplomats, Yudhoyono urged embassies to counter the increasing pressure from environmental NGOs on nations and companies to boycott Indonesian palm oil.
This was a coded message to the embassies to reduce their support to environmental NGOs in question (principally WWF, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the US-based Rainforest Action Network).
These eNGOs have launched a series of attacks which include encouragement of bodies like the US Environmental Protection Agency and the European Commission to rule palm oil as neither renewable as a biofuel nor sustainable as a food crop.
At the urging of WWF, some European governments, for example the Netherlands and Belgium, have begun to advocate "Sustainable Trade", which entails calling for preferential tariffs for products certified by voluntary certification schemes developed and promoted by WWF.
This is part of WWF's anti-free market and ant-competitive campaign to "transform markets". The strategy is to leverage dominant companies in the supply chain to demand their suppliers adopt WWF-preferred certification.
Indonesia's Association of Palm Oil Producers recently resigned from the WWF-developed Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil because of concerns over poor governance and efforts by WWF to alter previously agreed sustainability standards.
The Indonesian Government has developed the Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO) standard, to give Indonesian producers an alternative way to demonstrate sustainable practices. Compliance with ISPO will be regulated.
Not WTO compliant
The President’s strong public support for the Indonesian palm oil industry should serve as a warning to governments and NGOs that continue to run discriminatory campaigns against trade in palm oil.
Indonesia has also warned that it regards the EU renewable energy directive as contrary to the EU's obligations as a member of the WTO.