Thousands of signatures submitted against Indonesian palm oil

The movement campaigning to exclude palm oil from the free trade agreement with Indonesia submitted thousands of signed petitions to the Federal Chancellery in Bern on Monday. The referendum will put the FTA to a nationwide vote.

This content was published on June 23, 2020 - 15:20

After years of being a symbol of environmental campaigns, palm oil is now also at the centre of an economic debate. Some 60,000 people have backed a referendum opposing a free trade agreement with Indonesia, from where Switzerland imports the majority of its palm oil. It’s the first time that an FTA will be challenged by a popular vote.

Rightwing politicians denounce the referendum as a harmful attack on Swiss economic interests. “Switzerland’s export industry makes up 50% of the country’s profits, and Indonesia, with its nearly 300 million inhabitants, is a very important market,” parliamentarian Christian Lüscher told Swiss public television, RTS.

Yet many companies are trying to do without this controversial ingredient. It has been replaced with Swiss rapeseed oil in certain products. The Wander food manufacturing group aims to completely abolish palm oil from 2021. 

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