Indonesia palm oil sector upgrades: Indonesia eyes Japan, Spain for improved palm oil trade and more. Russia-built railway in East Kalimantan.

Editor's note: Indonesia policy shifts are probably the most notable in the regional palm oil producing areas in Southeast Asia and worth keeping an eye on. Free trade agreements such as CEPA and notably with the EU are being worked on. There are significant gains in timber legality such as FLEGT#, which Indonesia hopes to extend to better acceptance for its palm oil to the EU. So, a legality drive and major efforts on sustainability including on peat land restoration and more are notable. It is a busy and promising period for Indonesia's palm oil upgrades and global buyers are set to diversify their sourcing zones.
# a relative miss for Malaysia timber for several reasons including sub-national jurisdiction issues, a forestry sector expert tells me

Please refer to Peatland Restoration Agency news here:

18 July 2017: Indonesia eyes Japan, Spain for improved palm oil trade and more. Russia-built railway in East Kalimantan.

Editor's note: These items add to a spate of exciting news on Indonesia's palm oil trade push; earlier headlines included  delegations to China on bio-diesel and more. Indonesia is keenly eyeing EU CEPA negotiations with strong deadlines and significant internal upgrading on peat restrictions, legalisation and more to better align with international market preferences. Indonesia commercials also report they are in readiness on 3MCPD and lead exporters are able to market smallholder, certified and low-MCPD products. At the same time, views from Jakarta in recent weeks has been that (a coordinated international palm oil marketing effort via) CPOPC will be slow as this entity has yet to be formalised within the Indonesia legal framework - will this speed up if a joint approach to WTO is targeted? Industry observers note that there may be dissension on CPOPC appointments and Malaysia seeks its own branding. But it seems that in WTO dispute cases, complainants are usually one member e.g. EU, Indonesia etc; (but Indonesia was joint complainant with Thailand and others here: DS217 United States — Continued Dumping and Subsidy Offset Act of 2000). Indonesia also has a large internal market, and big biodiesel mandate. 

Malaysia, Indonesia May Take EU Plan to Curb Palm Oil Imports to WTO -- The statement, following a meeting between Malaysia and Indonesia's trade ministers, said that the two Southeast Asian countries would meet at end-July to "discuss and coordinate" palm oil issues, including organising a joint mission to Europe to "engage with relevant parties and stakeholders." The two nations will coordinate plans via the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC), a joint initiative by Malaysia and Indonesia to work together in managing stockpiles and supporting prices.

“The Malaysian Palm Oil Board will refer to the commodity as Malaysian palm oil in future,” he said when launching the 13th National Incorporated Society of Planters (ISP) Seminar yesterday...

Indonesian delegation negotiating increased exports of oil palm products to Japan by Viriya P. Singgih The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Wed, July 12, 2017
Indonesia is seeking to seal a deal to export more oil palm products to Japan, especially products that can be used as biomass, amid the latter’s growing appetite for renewable energy power generation.

Malaysia to Review Trade With France After Palm Oil Restriction  By : Emily Chow | on 3:40 PM July 11, 2017 -- Kuala Lumpur. Malaysia said it may review its trade with France and cut buying of French products following a move by the European country to limit the use of palm oil in biofuels. France said on Thursday (06/07) that it will take steps to restrict the use of palm oil in biofuels production in a bid to reduce deforestation in Malaysia and Indonesia, the world's top two producers of the tropical oil.

Indonesia, Spain hope to strengthen bilateral trade, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Sat, July 8, 2017 -- Jokowi also expects Spain to treat Indonesian palm oil products fairly amid rampant negative campaigns directed at the products in the European market. “I hope Spain will help us ensure that the partnership model for the standardization of wood and timber products through the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade [FLEGT] agreement can be implemented for palm oil as well,” Jokowi said. In the meeting, Jokowi expressed his appreciation to Airbus Defense and Space, which has chosen Bandung as its assembly center for the Asia Pacific market.

Russia to construct railways in East Kalimantan by N.Adri, The Jakarta Post, Balikpapan, East Kalimantan | Wed, July 12, 2017 -- The two railway lanes will be used to transport goods, in particular natural resources such as coal and crude palm oil. The railways will be used to carry passengers at least five years after it begins operations in 2022.

18 Mar 2017: 83% conservation pledge for Papua, 21.7 million ha of idle land to customary peoples and poor farmers, BPDP issues, police target ‘land mafia’, fighting illegal plantations, asset ownership inequality in the spot light, forest rights 

WITH AMBITIOUS PLEDGE, PAPUA BECOMES CONSERVATION LEADER, February 23, 2017 -- An Indonesian Province the size of Norway has just publicly committed to protect at least 83 percent of its land area as undisturbed natural habitat—a goal that immediately marks it as a world leader in environmental conservation. The Province of Papua, which comprises four-tenths of the South Pacific island of New Guinea, announced its commitment at the end of meetings this week in Jayapura, the Provincial capital.  The commitment was made by Assistant Governor Elia Loupatty, accompanied by the heads or representatives of 13 provincial agencies in Papua. “This is a remarkable milestone—one that should echo around the world,” said Judith Dipodiputro, coordinator of Project Papua, an initiative of Indonesian President Joko Widodo that is promoting sustainable development in the region.

Police target ‘land mafia’ Moses Ompusunggu, The Jakarta Post March 18, 2017 -- National Police in cooperation with the Agrarian and Spatial Planning Ministry pledged to take stern action against rampant so-called “land mafia” practices in the country....The reform agenda includes the granting of 21.7 million hectares of idle land to customary peoples and poor farmers to improve their welfare and reduce economic disparity. But land problems, which could seriously hamper the reform plan, have been a major problem for many years, with disputes involving big companies, especially farming and mining firms, often resulting in social conflict, as a result of the involvement of police and military personnel....

DARMIN NASUTION, MENTERI KOORDINATOR BIDANG PEREKONOMIAN - BPDP Jangan Hanya Jadi Kasir, Untuk program biodiesel, hasilnya relatif bagus. Tapi program yang lain, peremajaan kebun sawit rakyat praktis tidak ada hasil.  7/3/2017, Industri Opini
Note: For the biodiesel program, the results are relatively good. But for other programs, such as rejuvenating smallholder oil palm, there are practically no results.

National park fights back against illegal plantations, Apriadi Gunawan, The Jakarta Post March 11, 2017 -- More than 2,000 hectares within the National Park had been converted into plantations, which were mostly spread throughout Langkat, North Sumatra and Southeast Aceh. The forest conversions were mostly committed by local people who were supported by payments from outside investors. “Most of the investors come from Medan,” Joko said...

EDITORIAL: Inequality in asset ownership, The Jakarta Post March 16, 2017 -- The Agrarian and Spatial Planning Ministry has set itself a target of granting 5 million land titles this year at a cost of Rp 2 trillion (US$148 million), which will be fully financed by the state budget. Land titles will empower the poor to take maximum benefit from their physical assets, such access to bank loans. Usually, registering a property can be an arduous and costly procedure. Ministry data shows that of the 136 million plots of private land across the country, only 46 million plots have legal titles... Encouraged by the smooth implementation of a land reform pilot project last year, the ministry will also speed up the redistribution of neglected land, estimated at 12.7 million hectares across the country, to landless people around forests through local customary communities.,,Many plantation companies hold land concessions of more than 500,000 ha, or more than six times the land area of Singapore. We are afraid that if the expansion of plantations, especially oil palm, by big companies remains at its current rate of more than 100,000 ha per year, mounting problems of inequality of income, wealth and land conflicts could threaten the long-term sustainability of the plantation industry, even the macroeconomic stability.

West Papua villagers fight for forest rights, Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post, March 14, 2017 -- Villagers in West Papua have vowed not to let their forests be encroached by logging and palm oil companies, like what happened on Sumatra and Kalimantan where massive deforestation has posed threats to the natural environment...

West Papuan villages awarded forest permits, Hans Nicholas Jong, The Jakarta Post March 10, 2017