KUALA LUMPUR DEC.1:- Malaysia and other ASEAN members would like to elevate ASEAN-European Union (EU) relations to a Strategic Partnership emphasizing the need for Joint Working Group (JWG) to convene without delay on January 2021.
Foreign Minister, Datuk Sri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said, the JWG is very important as pending issues could be ironed out mainly in relation to the element of vegetable oils in the Terms of Reference (TOR) of JWG.
“After almost two years of negotiations, the EU and relevant ASEAN Member States are able to reach a common ground. For Malaysia we see this positive development as a major breakthrough in our partnership with EU.
“It reflects our common position to resolve the issue of palm oil in a holistic and transparent manner,” said Hishammuddin in the 23rd ASEAN –EU Ministerial Meeting held virtually here today.
The meeting was co-chaired by Singapore’s Foreign Minister, Vivian Balakrishnan as the ASEAN Country Coordinator for ASEAN-EU Relations, Josep Borrell as EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission.
The meeting was attended by all 10 ASEAN Foreign Ministers along with all 27 Foreign Ministers of the EU. The meeting was held virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions on travel.
Earlier in his speech Hishammuddin urged the EU to understand and realise that the misconception on palm oil sustainability in Europe has negatively impacted the palm oil industry in Malaysia.
Hishammudin added, the negative impact involves the livelihood of more than 500,000 smallholders in the palm oil sector, with a multiplying effect to the farmers themselves, their families and their surrounding communities.
The Foreign Minister also urged the ASEAN and the EU to redouble the efforts and make steady and significant progress in developing the framework of parameters of ASEAN-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA). This is due to COVID-19 that has significantly wounded the global economy.
On the ASEAN-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (CATA), Hishammuddin wishes to reiterate that Malaysia is ready to join other ASEAN Member States in signing the agreement with the understanding that Malaysia is allowed to ratify it later when fully ready to implement the obligations under the agreement.
Regarding regional and international issues, Hishammuddin said, Malaysia is concerned by the unsettled politics and flourishing of hate and divide which has made the world more volatile than before.
“In this context Malaysia would like to stress that extremism and hate speech in all its forms and manifestations should not be tolerated and condoned as it would lead to the disintegration of societies.
“ASEAN and EU must work together in addressing issues of extremism in all its forms by understanding the root causes that brings such problems and explore sustainable and workable solutions that can effectively counter the spread and influence of extreme ideologies,” said Hishammuddin. – Malaysia World News