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NO TO THE FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WITH INDONESIA A palm oil plantation right next to intact rain forest (Image: @ Arcus Foundation / Kike Arnal) Full view


PanEco recommends voting «No» on the question of the EFTA free trade agreement with Indonesia in the upcoming national vote on March 7th 2021.

We are thus supporting the “Stop Palm Oil” referendum committee in their efforts to stop the free trade agreement between Switzerland and the other EFTA states and Indonesia. We fear that if the agreement is adopted, the tariff discounts on palm oil will lead to more palm oil being imported from Indonesia – at the expense of the rainforest and under the guise of sustainability.

The import of palm oil is subject to sustainability provisions in the free trade agreement. The inclusion of such regulations in a free trade agreement can be seen as a great achievement. For the first time, Switzerland links import relief directly to production standards. This is a very innovative approach that has a lot of potential. Only: In the end, its success depends on the implementation and unfortunately the certificates that will be used to verify sustainable production guarantee neither ecological nor social sustainability.

In the agreement, the aforementioned sustainability provisions are primarily linked to the RSPO certification label. As the PanEco Foundation, we left the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) in 2016. Unfortunately, the RSPO has not been able to live up to its name in the 18 years of its existence. There are currently no ecologically and socially sustainable value chains in Indonesia that are reliably certified. This puts sustainability on paper, but the reality is different. Above all, there is a lack of effective control and of sanctioning mechanisms. In the present agreement, the Federal Council fails to introduce such mechanisms in any effective way. It leaves the guarantee of sustainability to the RSPO and the private sector.

Large-scale palm oil production in Indonesia not only destroys the rainforest and thus the habitat of animals with endangered species such as orangutans, it also displaces the local population and promotes forced and child labor. We therefore recommend putting a «No» in the ballot box on March 7th for the free trade agreement.

> Note: A detailed blog on the subject will follow shortly.
> Fact sheet: Content and institutional shortcomings of the RSPO
> News article: The PanEco Foundation is leaving the RSPO