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French farmers block refineries, fuel depots over palm oil imports
13 June 2018, 08:27 | Justin Tyler
French farmers block refineries over palm oil imports - The Jakarta Post
The Vatry fuel depot in the Marne region of northeastern France was the first to be blocked on Sunday evening as about 100 farmers set up barricades with tractors and mounds of rubble, a spokesman from the FNSEA farmers union told Reuters.
The strikes have led to a further worsening of relations between the country's agricultural sector and President Emmanuel Macron's government.
French oil and gas major Total TOTF.PA said on Tuesday that 3.5 percent of its petrol stations in France were out of fuel on the second-day of a blockade of refineries and fuel depots by farmers that has disrupted distribution.
Negotiations between the FNSEA union that called the protest and French Agriculture Minister Stephane Travert to resolve the latest dispute progressed on Wednesday after he sent the union a draft letter in the morning responding to some of their demands.
The mostly symbolic blockade at La Mede was lifted around midday with farmers returning to work, according to a Reuters photographer on site.
The minister called on angry protesters to sit for negotiations to reach "adequate solutions", insisting that the government would not back down on its decision to allow energy giant Total to import palm oil at a biofuel plant in La Mede, southeastern France.
Last month, authorities gave Total permission to use palm oil as a feedstock.
Total's initiative to import palm oil for its biofuel plant was just "the last straw", the representative added.
Besides a ban on palm oil imports, she wants the government to outlaw agriculture imports produced using fertilisers, herbicides and other products prohibited in the European Union as part of an agriculture law that will be debated in the Senate starting June 26.
The issue has caused friction with Indonesia and Malaysia, the world's two largest palm oil producers, with Malaysian officials warning of trade repercussions that could affect a potential deal to buy French fighter jets.
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