KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 24 — The Ministry of Primary Industries has urged palm oil industry players and relevant associations to intensify good labour practices and organise awareness programmes on forced and child labour.
It also encourages the industry to draw the interest of employable youths to the plantation sector, thus reducing the country’s dependence on foreign workers, besides switching to mechanisation.
“We have taken various measures to expunge the Malaysian palm oil sector from the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorisation Act List issued by the US Department of Labour,” the ministry said.
In a follow-up statement to a dialogue between Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok and the East Malaysia Planters Association in Tawau, Sabah recently, the ministry said it viewed seriously the 2019 Trafficking in Persons Report (U.S. TIP Report) released in Washington on June 20, 2019, which listed Malaysia on the Tier 2 Watchlist.
“A study on the labour situation in the palm oil sector in Malaysia is expected to assist Malaysia in addressing US’ concerns about the Malaysian palm oil industry as a whole,” the ministry said.
The US is one of the largest importers of Malaysian palm oil products. In 2019, exports of Malaysian palm oil products to the US were worth RM3.1 billion (1.1 million tonnes).
“The oil palm industry (upstream and downstream sectors) provides employment to over two million people. Hopefully, the results of the study could address the concerns,” it said.