Malaysia’s Commitment to Labor Reforms and Enforcement


Malaysian palm oil is a modern, sophisticated and well-regulated industry. Our companies and farmers ship to customers around the world, and abide by complex local and global regulations on everything from food safety to environmental sustainability. The industry is determined to make a firm commitment to improve labor rights and standards, as part of our global responsibility.

In the United States, some Withhold and Release Orders (WROs) have been placed by the U.S. authorities on some Malaysian exporters. The WROs are linked to alleged labor rights violations, which is in turn linked to a Report from the U.S. State Department known as the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report. This report classifies Malaysia as a Tier 3 country (the lowest level).

The Malaysian palm oil community understands that we must live up to the highest global labor rights standards, if we are to continue to successfully serve our customers in Asia-Pacific, India, Europe, the U.S., Middle East, and other international markets.

Our Commitment is to improve and reform labor rights standards, working with the Malaysian Government, and with the support of our international partners such as foreign governments, supply chain partners, civil society  and the media, all of whom can help to verify the success of our efforts.

This commitment means that the Malaysian palm oil industry is supportive of projects run by our international partners on labor rights in Malaysia. This includes projects funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, the EU Commission and various civil society groups.

The Ministry of Plantation Industries & Commodities (MPIC), which oversees the industry, has been active in responding and partnering with the industry to assess the reforms that are needed. The Ministry of Human Resources is another key player in labor rights processes inside Malaysia.

Malaysian palm oil is not perfect, and the labor situation in the sector is highly complex. Unfortunately, this complexity can give rise to problems with labor in the palm oil sector. We recognize this reality. However, misinformation also exists, and we seek to correct that. Broad-based attacks on the industry are in bad faith, and do not represent the reality. Malaysia’s major companies are signatories to domestic and international standards that are the strictest and most wide-ranging for any commodity, globally. The Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), for example, are recognized and accepted around the world.

Malaysia’s palm oil sector will now build on this international commitment, and work to implement labor policies that meet the standards of our global customers, and partner governments.