Indian Importers to Shift to New Sources of Palmolein to Protest Malaysian PM’s Kashmir Remarks

© REUTERS / Lai Seng SinA worker collects palm oil fruits at a plantation in Bahau, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia January 30, 2019
A worker collects palm oil fruits at a plantation in Bahau, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia January 30, 2019 - Sputnik International
New Delhi (Sputnik): Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad’s remark about the status of Kashmir at last month’s UN General Assembly Session has raised national sentiments in India, and triggered widespread demands to shun Palmolein imports from that country.

An apex body of edible oil extractors has given an advisory to its members to restrict Palmolein imports from Malaysia and shift to other supply sources.

“After the Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir’s statement, like anyone else, we were also hurt and wanted to send a message. Not a single Islamic nation, other than Malaysia has made such a strong statement on Kashmir,” said Dr B.V. Mehta, Executive Director of the Solvent Extractors Association of India.

India’s import of vegetable oils during September 2019 was down by 13 per cent. India imported 14.17 million tonnes of vegetable oil during 2018-19, and the quantum of Palm Oil imports in September 2019 was 8.5 million tonnes. Indonesia is the largest supplier of Palm Oil to India, providing two-thirds of demand with the rest imported from Malaysia. 

Dr Mehta said on Tuesday that there are many alternatives to Malaysian suppliers and Indian importers are even looking to Russia to supply Sunflower oil. He said, importers are assessing the logistics of importing vegetable oil from Russia on a long-term basis.

Meanwhile, Malaysia said, it views with “great concern” the decision of the Solvent Extractors Association of India asking its members to stop buying Palm Oil from that country.

"While we try to understand the underlying sentiment associated with the SEA (Solvent Extractors' Association) advisory with respect to Malaysian palm oil imports, we feel this is a major setback in our progressing cooperation and working relations," Malaysian Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said on Tuesday.

During the UN General Assembly session in September, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir claimed that India has “invaded and occupied” Jammu and Kashmir and that it must solve the issue with Pakistan through dialogue.

New Delhi was quick to rebuke him for the statement, and the spokesperson of the Indian External Affairs Ministry said the Malaysian government must refrain from making such remarks given the relations shared between the two countries. “We deeply regret these comments since they are not based on facts,” the spokesperson said.

India stripped the restive Jammu and Kashmir state of its special status, by amending a provision in the country’s constitution in early August, which irked traditional rival Pakistan. As a stakeholder in Kashmir, Islamabad slammed New Delhi’s decision as “illegal”.

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