An Indian trade organisation representing oilseed crushers today advised its members not to buy palm oil from Malaysia, taking a cue from New Delhi’s protest against Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s remarks on the Kashmir conflict.
“The recent developments pertaining to strained relations between our nation and Malaysia has put a lot of responsibility on our industry in view of huge imports of palm oil from that country,” said Atul Chaturvedi, president of the Mumbai-based Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) of India.
“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 would heed our advice,” he told the association’s members.
Chaturvedi said the Indian government “has not taken kindly” to Malaysia’s position on Kashmir at the UN General Assembly.
“It would be in the fitness of things, as a responsible Indian vegetable oil industry, that we avoid purchasing palm oil from Malaysia until such time when clarity on the way forward emerges from the Indian government,” he said.
India, the world’s largest vegetable oil importer, relies on Indonesia and Malaysia for its palm oil supplies. Malaysia exported palm oil worth US$1.65 billion to India in 2018.
The Indian government had on Aug 5 revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s legally autonomous status and imposed several unprecedented security measures, including cutting off Internet and phone services, to prevent protests in the region.
Mahathir, in his speech at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Sept 28, had said that “despite UN resolution on Jammu and Kashmir, the country has been invaded and occupied”, and called on India to “work with Pakistan to resolve this problem”.
On Oct 4, India’s Ministry of External Affairs protested against Mahathir’s references to Kashmir.