Malaysia on Tuesday said that India’s decision to cut back on its palm oil purchases was only temporary and will be resolved soon, Reuters reported.
“Having long-standing bilateral ties, the two nations will overcome the current challenges, and prevail towards mutual and beneficial outcomes,” the Malaysian Palm Oil Council said in a statement, citing Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok.
Reports last month had cited unidentified government and industry officials as saying that Indian palm oil importers had ostensibly stopped purchasing from suppliers in Malaysia after the Centre privately asked them to boycott the product because of the Malaysian prime minister’s criticism of the Citizenship Amendment Act and the Indian government’s actions in Kashmir.
In December, India had criticised Mahathir Mohamad for claiming that people were dying because of the Citizenship Amendment Act, and the Indian government was “taking action to deprive some Muslims of their citizenship”. The Ministry of External Affairs described the Malaysian prime minister’s remarks as “factually incorrect” and said Mohamad had “yet again remarked on a matter that is entirely internal to India”. In October, the Malaysian prime minister had spoken against India’s decision to revoke Jammu and Kashmir’s special constitutional status.
Last month, Mohamad had expressed concerns about the purported Indian restrictions on imports of palm oil, but had said that he would continue to speak out about “wrong things”. Mhe had also said that his country was too small a nation to respond to India’s boycott of palm oil with trade retaliation. “We are too small to take retaliatory action,” he had told reporters in Langkawi. “We have to find ways and means to overcome that.”
India imports over nine million tonnes of palm oil every year from Indonesia and Malaysia. In 2019, India became Malaysia’s biggest importer of palm oil with 4.4 million tonnes of purchases, according to data by Malaysian Palm Oil Board. The move could effectively increase the country’s inventories and affect prices, which set the global standard for the oil.
Pakistan, meanwhile, will try to compensate for the losses suffered by Malaysia, its Prime Minister Imran Khan said, according to Geo News. Pakistan bought 1.1 million tonnes of palm oil from Malaysia in 2019.
At a joint press conference with Mohamad in the Malaysian city of Putrajaya, Khan also thanked his counterpart for speaking up about Kashmir. “A radical and extremist government has taken over India and has put the people of Kashmir in a prison,” Khan said. “The Indian occupying forces have picked the Kashmiri leadership and locked up teenagers and put them in prison. The way you have stood with us and spoken about the injustice in the occupied valley, I want to thank you for that.”