Wednesday, February 1, 2023
HomeIndiaMalaysian PM's comments on Kashmir spark unlikely battle in palm oil trade

Malaysian PM’s comments on Kashmir spark unlikely battle in palm oil trade

Buyers have been shifting their business to Indonesia as they anticipate the Modi govt to enforce curbs on trading with Malaysia after its PM said India invaded Kashmir.

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New Delhi/Kuala Lumpur: India, the world’s top palm oil consumer, is shunning purchases from Malaysia, the No 2. producer, after the southeast Asian nation’s prime minister criticized its policy in Kashmir, sparking the latest trade spat in the region.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad last month told the United Nations that India “invaded and occupied” Kashmir. Since then, many Indian buyers of palm oil have started shifting to supplies from Indonesia amid concern that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will curb purchases of the vegetable oil from Malaysia.

“India will replace Malaysian palm oil imports by buying more from Indonesia and increasing edible oil supplies from Ukraine,” said Bipul Chatterjee, who heads the CUTS Centre for International Trade, Economics and Environment in Jaipur, India. “It’s the first time ever that India has used its heft as a trade partner to express unhappiness about a political statement.”

The spat is the latest regional diplomatic dispute to impact trade flows. South Korea and Japan’s disagreement earlier this year over the latter’s colonization of the Korean Peninsula has resulted in stricter export checks and hits to tourism, while the China-U.S. conflict over issues including intellectual property has roiled global trade flows and financial markets.

Means of Power

“China and the U.S. often use trade ties as a means of power,” Chatterjee said. “It seems India has also entered the game where trade is not just trade, it is also a weapon.”

Any action by India to stop palm oil purchases from Malaysia will hit at the heart of the southeast Asian country’s industry. Palm is Malaysia’s biggest agricultural export, while India is it’s top buyer. India purchased about 3.9 million tons of palm oil between January and September, worth about $2 billion. That’s more than double last year’s shipments after New Delhi cut import duties on the commodity in January 2019.

Mahathir’s comments on Kashmir have sparked anger among India’s citizens too, with the #BoycottMalaysia hashtag trending on Twitter, and netizens calling on people not to travel to Malaysia and avoid trade with the nation.

“This is a reaction from traders so we cannot react to their personal decision,” Mahathir told reporters in Kuala Lumpur on Wednesday, referring to Indian buyers avoiding Malaysian palm oil. “If the government launched a boycott or something like that, then we will have to work diplomatically perhaps to reduce the kind of action that they have taken.”

Malaysia will seek a diplomatic solution if India restricts imports of some products from the Southeast Asian nation, Mahathir added. The Indian foreign ministry didn’t immediately respond to messages seeking comment.

Also read: At UNGA, people understood Kashmir was misaligned with rest of India, says Jaishankar


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  1. India will have to bear a lot.It is again throwing itself in hell.Pakistan is only a Muslim country based on name of Islam.India should confront Pakistan that it has been unable to do so so far.India ought to carry out diplomatic fight rather than hitting a country known for its peaceful existence that is Malaysia.

  2. Totally uncalled for comment by the Malaysian PM made without understanding historical facts.
    Unless we push back at such distortions, such people will be encouraged to make even more absurd statements.

  3. Kaun sunta hai UNGA ki speeches. Quite often, the hall is half empty. What the leaders of Turkey and Malaysia spoke on its floor should now be forgotten. Widening the ambit, taking it to curtailing imports of palm oil, which poor families use for cooking, will not help. Indian diplomacy is taking on a hard edge. Ms Seema Sirohi’s recent column underlines a darkening mood on Capitol Hill. Ambassador K.c Singh’s tweet to her emphasises that these full Jaishankars do not convert sceptics, they merely buy some time. Some reorientation would be in order.

    • You are crazy ashok. You are a Modi hater and honestly, sometimes I feel that you have just no understanding of national security issues. You just want to sound wise. Any comment on how Turkey is bombing Kurds? Any comment on how China is pulverising Uyghurs? Any sensible comments SIR except for your blah blah kaun sunta hai ji?

    • And the way my personal opinion is that palm oil exports should be completely banned because they are destroying wild habitat. Poor families my foot!!! Don’t give twisted logic just to sound like garibon ka annadatta.

      • After the poor return from their multiplex outings, they can use Italian olive oil to cook their evening meal.

      • he(ashok) is fountainhead of conscience but the only travesty is it often gets boomeranged into his nether region . God knows who told him only poor use palm oil .. he will say anything under the sun .. ignoble he is at best

    • Fully agreed Ashokji. India used to be respected a lot by international community in the past. That is because though Pakistan annexed POK , Gilgit and Baltistan. But when it came to India water treaty Nehruji magnanimously gave 80 percent of indias share also other than Pakistanis share. That sort of diplomacy is what we should continue to practice. Taking that idea forward as you have suggested India should double it’s palm oil and other imports from Malaysia. We miss Titans like Nehruji.

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