The Malaysian prime minister and the Indonesian president pledged to strengthen their cooperation in defense of the palm oil sector on Monday, in the Malaysian official's first trip abroad since taking office.
Anwar Ibrahim, long relegated to the opposition, became Malaysia's prime minister on November 24, after forming an alliance of parties following an election without a clear winner. He then won a vote of confidence in parliament to strengthen his position.
The new Malaysian leader met with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Monday in Bogor, south of the capital Jakarta, and thanked his host for Indonesia's support.
“It's a bit personal, Mr. President. When I was in a difficult situation, living in uncertainty and suffering, Indonesia welcomed me as a true friend,” he remarked to reporters after the meeting.
Joko Widodo stressed that the two countries in Southeast Asia, the two main palm oil exporting countries, would strengthen their alliance against "discrimination" against the sector, strongly criticized by defenders of the palm oil. environment for its role in deforestation.
“We agreed to strengthen cooperation through the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries (CPOPC) to strengthen the palm oil sector,” he said.
The European Union announced an agreement last month to ban the import of several products, such as soy or palm oil, when they contribute to deforestation.
Indonesia, like Malaysia, had already brought proceedings before the WTO to arbitrate the trade dispute between them and the EU over European restrictions on the use of palm oil-based biofuels, also linked to Deforestation.
The Indonesian leader also welcomed the interest shown by Malaysian companies to invest in the project for a new capital on the island of Borneo.
Officials also discussed bilateral trade, disputes over their common borders and the crisis in Burma.
Indonesia, the region's largest economy, is this year chairing the Association of Southeast Asian Countries (ASEAN), of which Myanmar is a member, with a summit of the organization's leaders scheduled for November.
The rights of migrant workers were also on the menu after Indonesia temporarily suspended the recruitment of its nationals by Malaysia last year for lack of a satisfactory legal framework.