KUALA LUMPUR, July 19 – As the world grapples with the global climate crisis, it is crucial for Malaysia to strengthen its sustainable development initiatives to ensure a brighter future for the younger generation, the Swedish Ambassador has said in Malaysia, Dag Juhlin-Dannfelt.
At the same time, the country can also leverage its strategic location and competitive position to attract more trade and investment, he said.
“We tend to view sustainability as a key competitive advantage for the future. Thus, companies that fail to switch from traditional production lines to sustainable versions would no longer be competitive within the next 10 years.
“Climate change is a thing right now, so it puts quite a lot of pressure on businesses,” he told Bernama.
Juhlin-Dannfelt, who started his service on December 2, 2016, will return to Sweden’s foreign ministry but said he would continue to be ‘in love’ with Malaysia – a country he described as a wealthy nation of diversity, modernity and natural beauty.
The outgoing ambassador said that many European companies have a positive view of Malaysia as an investment destination, adding that Sweden is truly proud to be one of Malaysia’s trading partners.
In 2019, Sweden exported goods worth US$415 million (US$1 = RM4.21) to Malaysia, including packaged medicines, tractors and glass-working machinery, while Malaysia’s exports to Sweden amounted to US$322 million, comprising goods such as rubber garments, stearic acid products and palm oil.
During the interview, Juhlin-Dannfelt also expressed his excitement over the Malaysian government’s recent appointment of Sweden’s Ericsson unit, Ericsson (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, to design and build the nationwide 5G network at full cost. of RM11 billion.
“Currently, there are around 100 Swedish companies and Swedish-related business establishments in Malaysia, and I foresee more room for major investments in the country as the business climate has been very encouraging for both parties,” said- he declared.
He also commended the Malaysian government for its commitment to strengthening its Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) initiatives.
Last month, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz told the Joint Committee on Climate Change (JC3) flagship conference that the Malaysian government had secured adequate funding for SDG-related programs and projects in the next budget 2022.
He said the government had taken a “whole of the nation” approach to dealing with the impacts of climate change on financial stability and economic sustainability.
“The government is looking more to boost sustainable development efforts – in particular by introducing green economy policies as well as tax and non-tax incentives – to push for more investment in renewable energy,” the minister said. .
While acknowledging that the disruptions brought by the Covid-19 pandemic have hampered global trade, Juhlin-Dannfelt believes that once the pandemic is over, things will return to normal.
“We hope the Malaysian government will ratify the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership so that the country can become an even more attractive investment destination,” he said.
In April, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers urged the government to speed up ratification processes for the two major free trade agreements to help local businesses, especially manufacturers, recover faster from the pandemic.
Commenting on Malaysia’s sustainability initiatives in the plantation sector, Juhlin-Dannfelt welcomed the government’s decision to establish the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification and its commitment not to open any new palm cultivation area to oil.
Latest data from the Malaysian Palm Oil Board showed that around 55.6% of Malaysia’s 33 million hectares of land is under forest cover; exceeding the country’s initial commitment of 50% forest cover at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992.
“I’m not in a position to really rate the MSPO certification but I think Europe has welcomed the certification as it’s a good step forward,” he said.
The MSPO is a national certification system for oil palm plantations, independent and organized smallholdings and palm oil processing facilities to ensure that Malaysian palm oil is produced sustainably and safe for consumption.
The certification, made mandatory since January 1, 2020, aimed to guarantee responsible and sustainable production, as well as transparency and traceability throughout the palm oil supply chain, as well as the protection of biodiversity and the country’s environment.
As of December 31 last year, 88.25% of the total area under oil palm cultivation in the country had been certified.
In 2020, palm oil represented 31% of the oils and fats produced in the world with 235.4 million tonnes, compared to 25% for soybean oil and 11% for rapeseed oil.
In 2018, Sweden joined France in saying it was against the European Union (EU) resolution that aims to ban palm biodiesel from the EU’s energy mix after 2020. — Bernama