WASHINGTON, March 18 (Bernama) -- The call for a "level playing field" inagriculture could only be achieved if major players provide the necessaryleadership, Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, Datuk PeterChin, said on Thursday.
Chin said it was time for the United States and the European Union (EU) to"walk the talk" and to look into reducing subsidies in view of itsnegative effects on commodities of interest to the developing countries.
In a speech at an edible oil conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, Chin said"developing countries like Malaysia cannot compete on a sustainable basiswhen the industries in other countries are heavily subsidised, bringingabout trade distortion in the oil and fats business".
The palm oil sector has not only provided jobs to half a million workersin Malaysia, but also alleviated rural poverty and enhanced their livesthrough education for their children, he added.
"Indeed, success in poverty eradication and better quality of life are thebasis for political stability and security, which are proven ingredientsin the prevention of political unrest and even terrorism," he said at theNational Institute of Oilseeds Products (NIOP) conference.
In light of the US Food and Drug (FDA) requirement that food manufacturersreduce and label transfatty acids (from hydrogenation of soybean oil) ontheir products by 2006, Chin said there was scope for cooperation in theoil and fats industry.
He reaffirmed that palm oil would never be a threat to other competitorssuch as the soybean oil in the United States, but could be a partialalternative for semi-solid fats for American consumers.
Last year, Malaysia received about US$8 billion in export earnings frompalm oil and palm products, "which represent a significant amount for us",Chin said.