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Malaysia’s FGV to “Clear Its Name” After US’ Palm Oil Import Ban on Company

October 1, 2020, 08.10 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, - Malaysia’s FGV Holdings Berhad vows to “clear its name” after the US imposed a palm oil import ban on the company.

The US’ palm oil import ban on the Malaysian palm oil producer stemmed from allegations of forced labor and other abuses.

The US Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Trade (CBP) issued the palm oil import ban order against the Malaysian company on Wednesday, saying it found indicators of forced labor, including concerns about children, along with other abuses such as physical and sexual violence.

Read also: Indonesia Imposes Biodiesel Program to Fight Smear Campaign Against Palm Oil in EU

The palm oil import ban was announced a week after The Associated Press exposed major labor abuses in Malaysia’s palm oil industry, and was triggered by a petition filed last year by nonprofit organizations.

FGV said all the issues raised “have been the subject of public discourse since 2015 and FGV has taken several steps to correct the situation”.

“FGV is disappointed that such decision has been made when FGV has been taking concrete steps over the past several years in demonstrating its commitment to respect human rights and to uphold labor standards,” it said in a statement.

Malaysia is the world’s second-largest producer of palm oil. Together with Indonesia, the two countries dominate the global market, producing 85 percent of the $65 billion supply.

Palm oil and its derivatives from FGV, and closely connected Malaysian-owned Felda, make their way into the supply chains of major multinationals.

They include Nestle, L’Oreal, and Unilever, according to the companies’ most recently published supplier and palm oil mill lists.

Read also: Multinational Companies Emit Nearly a Fifth of Global Carbon Emissions

Several huge Western banks and financial institutions not only pour money directly or indirectly into the palm oil industry but also hold shares in FGV.

AP reporters interviewed more than 130 former and current workers from eight countries at two dozen palm oil companies — including Felda, which owns about a third of the shares in FGV.

They found everything from unpaid wages to outright slavery and allegations of rape, sometimes involving minors.

They also found stateless Rohingya Muslims, one of the world’s most persecuted minorities, had been trafficked onto plantations and forced to work.


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