Media release of the Swiss coalition on palm oil
Trade agreement with Indonesia must not contain palm oil
Bern/Zurich, 2 February 2018 Palm oil must be excluded from the free trade agreement between Switzerland and Indonesia. In an open letter to Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann, Swiss environmental, human rights, consumer and farming organizations are calling for this.
Palm oil is the crux of the free-trade agreement between Switzerland and Indonesia, which is about to be concluded. Large-scale palm oil cultivation in Indonesia and the trade in low-cost vegetable fats cause massive environmental damage as well as human rights, land and labour disputes. In an open letter to Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann and the Indonesian government, a broad coalition of Swiss NGOs and peasant organizations, together with the Indonesian human rights and environmental organization WALHI, call for excluding palm oil from the free trade agreement.
In the letter, the coalition warns of the consequences if palm oil is imported into Switzerland at a reduced price through the trade agreement: Any sign of increased demand for palm oil would lead to further land grabbing, displacement of the local population and serious environmental damage. A trade agreement is the wrong place to solve the problems surrounding palm oil. The organizations involved therefore call for an open dialogue in order to addressing the issue democratically, transparently and holistically.
The undersigned organizations make it clear in the letter that weak and voluntary certificates such as RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palmoil) are not acceptable as a justification for tariff reductions. They refer to the complaint against RSPO, which came to light a few days ago, filed by Indonesian villagers at the OECD contact point in Switzerland. In addition, the organizations warn that increased palm oil imports will result in a significant loss of income for Swiss smallholders who are dependent on the sale of their rape or sunflower oil.
Questions and further information:
- Miges Baumann, Head of Development Policy, Bread for all; email@example.com; +4179 489 38 24
- Andrea Koch, Head of Communications, Swiss Grain Producers’ Association; firstname.lastname@example.org; +4176 216 11 20
- Irena Wettstein, Head of Communications, PanEco; email@example.com; +4152 354 32 34