India and Malaysia are locked in a massive diplomatic row which has threatened to engulf trade relations between two Asian nations. Malaysian Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali said that the unofficial boycott of the country’s palm oil by Indian traders cannot be sustained for long.
New Delhi was infuriated after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said India had “invaded and occupied” Jammu and Kashmir during his address in New York City at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 27.
“We felt that the people of Jammu and Kashmir had benefited from the UN resolution, and all nations should abide by it, not just India or Pakistan but even the United States. Otherwise, what’s the use of having the UN?” Malaysian PM told reporters in Kuala Lumpur on October 22.
As a result, numerous posts with the hashtag #BoycottMalaysia from Indian netizens were trending on Twitter.
PM Mahathir acknowledged that his comments at the UN had strained relations between India and Malaysia and described the prevailing situation as a “trade war” between the world’s biggest exporter of palm oil and largest buyer of the commodity.
The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEAI) on Monday asked its 875 members to stop buying Malaysian palm oil due to Mahathir’s firm stance over the Kashmir issue.
“In your own interest as well as a mark of solidarity with our nation, we should avoid purchases from Malaysia for the time being. We trust you will heed our advice,” said SEAI president Atul Chaturvedi in a statement.
Malaysia is likely to lose a massive chunk of the foreign exchange as India is the world’s biggest importer of palm oil. In 2018, Malaysia exported 6.84 billion ringgit (US$1.65 billion) worth of palm oil to India.
But Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said the Malaysian government was not worried about the palm oil embargo. “New Delhi never [officially] stated they wanted to boycott the import of palm oil from Malaysia. The statement came from the traders association, not the Indian government,” she said.
Likewise, Malaysian Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali said a boycott of the country’s palm oil by Indian traders will likely not be prolonged, as there are not enough supplies from top producer Indonesia to cover the shortfall.
“We are confident that we will be able to resolve this issue immediately and effectively,” he told parliament Wednesday.