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EU's anti-deforestation law sparks concerns in US, Indonesia says

Jakarta Globe - April 25, 2024

Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – The anti-deforestation law launched by the European Union (EU) has sparked concerns not only in Indonesia but also among American lawmakers, according to senior minister Airlangga Hartarto.

The EU's deforestation-free regulation, also known as the EUDR, mandates operators or traders to prove their products do not come from deforested land. They must include precise geolocation coordinates in their due diligence statements before the goods can enter the EU's market. Commodities that are subject to the EUDR include palm oil, timber, cocoa, soy, rubber, and coffee, as well as their derived products.

The rules, which will start to apply on Dec. 30, have ruffled the feathers of the world's largest palm oil producers Indonesia and Malaysia. The close neighbors sent a joint mission to the European bloc's capital Brussels last May. The mission ended with the establishment of an ad hoc task force between Indonesia, Malaysia, and the EU to identify the practical solutions to the policy. Airlangga claimed what Indonesia and Malaysia had done inspired other countries – including the US – to raise objections to the EUDR.

"A bipartisan group [of lawmakers] in the US have spoken against the EUDR. So [the fight against] EUDR which Indonesia initiated during its joint mission with Malaysia, continues to secure support from like-minded countries," Airlangga was quoted as saying in a recent press statement.

"Not long ago, [lawmakers] from the American Republican and Democratic parties were questioning the EUDR. So like-minded countries are inspired by what Indonesia and Malaysia have done," Airlangga said.

Last September, a bipartisan group of American lawmakers, including Republican Michelle Steel and Democrat lawmaker Terri Sewell, wrote a letter to US Trade Representative Katherine Tai, urging her to engage with European leaders. The letter claimed that the US "does not have any deforestation problems", arguing that the EUDR should have focused on "countries in which illegal deforestation is occurring".

US senators Marsha Blackburn and Angus King, among others, also penned a similar letter to Tai in March, expressing serious concerns about the EUDR's potential effects on their country's pulp and paper industry. A copy of the letter says that the EUDR will impose "costly requirements on US exporters that will limit market access for the $3.5 billion in US forest-derived products entering the EU annually".

In a separate letter, also directed to Tai, American senator Josh Hawley said that the policy would be detrimental to Missouri's soybean farmers.

It is not just American politicians who are anxious about the EUDR. Brazilian Agriculture Minister Carlos Favaro has called the EUDR as "an affront" of World Trade Organization (WTO) rules. Brazil, alongside Indonesia and 15 other countries, also sent a joint letter to the EU's top brass, even arguing that the EUDR has established "an inherently discriminatory and punitive unilateral benchmarking system that is potentially inconsistent with WTO obligations". Other countries signing this letter include Thailand, Argentina, Ghana, to name a few.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/eus-antideforestation-law-sparks-concerns-in-us-indonesia-say