The United Kingdom (UK) will follow very closely Malaysia’s effort in ensuring its palm oil industry is sustainable and not developed at the expense of deforestation which causes damage to the environment, said the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs of the UK, Jeremy Hunt.
Speaking in a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah after calling on the latter at Wisma Putra here Thursday, Hunt said he took the opportunity to hear Malaysia’s effort on the matter during their discussion.
“It was good to have the opportunity of hearing the progress that Malaysia is making and in that respect UK will follow very closely,” he said when asked on the UK’s position on the decision by the European Union to phase out palm oil by 2030.
Hunt is on a two-day working visit to Malaysia beginning today.
Elaborating on his visit, Hunt said Malaysia was his first trip for 2019 being a country where the UK has deep ties of commerce, diplomacy and also friendship going back hundreds of years.
“Malaysia is a good place for the UK to demonstrate the depth of our connection with countries all over the world as we plot our post brexit course in the world,” he said.
Hunt said he and Saifuddin had a good discussion on how to strengthen trade between the two countries despite the “ups and downs” of Brexit.
Meanwhile, Saifuddin said the ties between Kuala Lumpur and London had always been very good with trade between the two countries for the past 10 years recorded at between RM12 to RM17 billion per year.
“I have told Hunt that Malaysia has been following with a lot of interest on the Brexit issue and Malaysia looks forward to further cooperation and engagement for example in furthering Malaysia’s democratisation process of the new administration after the General Election,” he added.
Saifuddin said Malaysia also welcomed the offer by the British government in assisting the country in some of its governmental reform agenda in particular transformation of the civil service.
“There are 16,500 Malaysians studying in the UK and I believe the number will grow bigger in times to come. Malaysia has always valued the quality of UK education and that is the reason why many Malaysians study in the UK. Some of them on government sponsorship,” he said.
Also brought up during the discussion was the Rohingya issue, and according to Saifuddin, Malaysia and the UK were on the same page on many of the things of concern.