Hot on the heels of its restriction on palm oil imports, New Delhi now plans to curb the entry of microprocessors and telecoms equipment from Malaysia, reports The Times of India.
It said customs authorities have been told to ensure compliance with the government’s technical standards and quality-control order, in what may be the first trade retaliation by India against a nation’s political stance.
This comes after Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad vowed to continue speaking out against Indian government policies he disagrees with, following New Delhi’s move last week to place restrictions on refined palm oil imports.
“We are concerned about it (India’s ban on refined palm oil) because we sell a lot of palm oil to India, but on the other hand, we need to be frank and say when something goes wrong,” he said in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
Previously, Dr Mahathir slammed India for revoking Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status, as well as its introduction of a citizenship law deemed anti-Muslim.
Indian authorities are also upset by Putrajaya’s refusal to extradite preacher Zakir Naik, who is wanted in his home country on terrorism and money-laundering charges.
The Mumbai-born televangelist, who holds permanent resident status in Malaysia, was last year barred from giving public speeches after his incendiary comments on the country’s Chinese and Indians sparked furore.
The Times said the Indian Mines Ministry is keeping tabs on imports and may take action in the next few weeks.
It added that Malaysian palm oil already faces higher import tariffs – 50%, due to a 5% safeguard duty – compared with the 45% imposed on the commodity produced by Indonesia.
Palm oil from both Southeast Asian nations constitutes about two-thirds of India’s annual vegetable oil imports of 15 million tonnes. – TMI