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Inclusive Palm Oil Diplomacy Guards Indonesian Palm Oil Interests.

As the efforts to strengthen national palm oil diplomacy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs involves all stakeholders in the preparation of the palm oil diplomacy strategy. In collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Palm Oil Research Center (PPKS), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which in this case was represented by the Directorate of Trade, Commodity and Intellectual Property (Dit. PKKI), held a series of meetings and dialogues for input netting themed 'Palm Oil Diplomacy: Challenges and Strategy 'in Medan (18/10).

'The success of palm oil diplomacy depends on the involvement of all stakeholders at the national and regional levels in order to produce an inclusive diplomacy. That is what underlies the activities of this input netting, 'said Tri Purnajaya, Director of Trade, Commodities and Intellectual Property, Ministry of Foreign Affairs when opening this seminar and input neting.

In his presentation, Director Tri Purnajaya said that there were at least three things that underlie the need for strengthening the national palm oil diplomacy. The first, currently palm oil is Indonesia's largest export commodity. In 2017 alone, the total export value of palm oil and its derivatives reached Rp. 309.15 trillion, far exceeding other national export commodities.

The second, as a new and renewable energy source, the palm oil industry can be categorized as a strategic industry. Government programs related to the application of 20% Biodiesel will greatly help create national energy security.

The third, the labor force absorbed by the palm oil industry is growing continuously. So far, 17.5 million workers, including farmers, have been absorbed by the national palm oil industry and it is estimated that this number will continue to grow along with the growth of the Indonesian palm oil industry.

These three things show the importance of the role of palm oil in achieving SDGs, the fulfillment of world food, and supporting the improvement of the welfare of smallholder palm oil farmers.

However, the industry that has contributed greatly to the national economy is now under threats of global pressure. Attacks on Indonesian palm oil can be grouped into three categories, namely negative campaigns, discriminatory treatment of palm oil, and trade barriers in the form of tariffs and non-tariffs.

The most recent development is the planned implementation of the Renewable Energy Directive II (RED II) by the European Union which essentially will limit the use of vegetable oil-based biodiesel which is considered to have a risk of environmental damage. It is suspected that RED II is only a pretext to limit the entry of palm oil products into Europe in order to protect vegetable oil, especially rapeseed which is produced by European Union member countries.

Environmentally Friendly Palm Oil Strengthening in the Country

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will not remain idle facing the barrage of attacks faced by the national palm oil industry. But the involvement of other stakeholders is absolutely necessary. In this case, strengthening of palm oil diplomacy needs to be counterbalanced with domestic improvements.

Representing the Ministry of Agriculture, Director of Processing and Marketing of Plantation Products, Ir. Dedi Junaedi, said that the Government is strongly committed to create an environmentally friendly palm oil industry through strengthening the implementation of Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil (ISPO).

The government has also issued various regulations that ensure that palm oil is environmentally friendly, including criminalization of land clearing through burning methods and also a moratorium on land expansion for palm oil tree growing. National stakeholders hope that these positive developments are continuously echoed to the international world by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The meetings and input netting dialogues were also attended by Dr. Rusman Heriawan, Vice Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Indonesia for the period of 2011-2014 who conveyed constructive input that Indonesia's palm oil diplomacy strategy also needs to consider aspects of the benefits of palm oil consumption for palm oil export destination countries. This is hoped to provide a more complete picture to prospective importing countries regarding the positive benefits of palm oil for the benefit of its citizens.

Research Cooperation as a Bridging Link

Another important issue raised in the seminar and input netting this time, is the importance of the role of research. Increased productivity without land expansion, seed development, fertilizer development, or the development of palm oil derivative products (downstreaming), all of which require research. This is where the role of the Palm Oil Research Center (PPKS) comes in.

Founded in 1992, the Palm Oil Research Center has produced various findings in the field of palm oil. The long history of the establishment of PPKS which began with the establishment of Algemeene Proefstation der AVROS (APA) in 1916, later developed into the Research Institute of the Sumatra Planters Association (RISPA) in 1957. It was conveyed by Dr. Hasril Hasan Siregar, Director of PPKS that currently PPKS is conducting research on the development of palm oil derivative products, among others, for food, pharmaceutical, and fuel products. Collaborative research cooperation can also be useful as a bridge between producing countries such as Indonesia and consumer countries.

Increasing attention to non-traditional markets of palm oil products, such as India and the People's Republic of China (PRC), acceleration of the completion of Free Trade Agreements with partner countries, as well as the identification of shared interests between palm oil producing and consuming countries are some of the inputs from the seminar participants this time that will function as valuable ammunition for Indonesian palm oil diplomacy.

In addition to the Input Netting, Dit. PKKI also conducts field visits to Palm Oil (20/10) plantations and processing plants owned by PTPN IV which produces CPO, to have a direct view of the palm oil production process; and to hold a public lecture with the theme of Palm Oil Diplomacy in front of about 100 FISIP students at the University of North Sumatra (19/10).
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Publication:The President Post (Jakarta, Indonesia)
Geographic Code:9INDO
Date:Oct 31, 2018
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