Kashmir row: India plans to cut some imports from Turkey; likely to widen curbs on more products from Malaysia

  • India, the world's biggest buyer of edible oils, has already effectively stopped importing palm oil from Malaysia

  • New Delhi is now planning to restrict buying of petroleum, aluminium ingots, liquefied natural gas, computer parts and microprocessors from Malaysia

  • The government is also planning to cut imports of oil and steel products from Turkey

New Delhi: India is planning to cut some imports from Turkey and widen curbs on palm oil from Malaysia to oil, gas and other products, government officials said, targeting the two Muslim-majority countries for their criticism of India’s policy towards Kashmir.

India, the world’s biggest buyer of edible oils, has already effectively stopped importing palm oil from Malaysia by asking Indian importers to look elsewhere.

New Delhi is now planning to restrict buying of petroleum, aluminium ingots, liquefied natural gas, computer parts and microprocessors from Malaysia, the two government officials, who did not wish to be identified, told Reuters.

The government is also planning to cut imports of oil and steel products from Turkey, one of the officials said.

 Kashmir row: India plans to cut some imports from Turkey; likely to widen curbs on more products from Malaysia

Representational image. Reuters.

“Our government has not taken kindly the comments of Malaysia and Turkey and we will restrict trade from both the countries,” one of the officials said.

The Commerce Ministry did not reply to an email seeking comment.

Muslim-majority Kashmir is claimed in whole by India and Pakistan and ruled in part by both.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said recently Hindu-majority India was “invading and occupying the country” of Jammu and Kashmir and Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan had said Kashmiris are “virtually under blockade”.

The Indian government withdrew the autonomy of Kashmir last year to tighten its grip on the region, shutting down internet access and detaining activists and politicians. India’s Supreme Court last week ruled an indefinite shutdown of the internet in Kashmir was illegal.

Tension between India and Malaysia, the world’s second-biggest producer and exporter of palm oil after Indonesia, further escalated after 94-year-old Mahathir criticised India’s new citizenship law that critics say discriminates against Muslims.

Turkey, meanwhile, has sided with Pakistan on issues such as its membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which oversees the export of goods that can be used for nuclear weapons manufacturing.

Turkey is also against the blacklisting of Pakistan by the world financial watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), to curb its alleged financing of terror, something India has been lobbying for hard.

Indian trade data indicates that overall imports from both Malaysia and Turkey had already taken a hit last year.

Malaysia to raise concerns with India

Malaysia will use diplomatic channels as it moves to resolve concerns over palm oil exports after India imposed some curbs last week, a minister said on Thursday.

“This year, we foresee more challenges in some of our major markets,” Teresa Kok, the Southeast Asian nation’s primary industries minister, told an industry conference.

A key concern was India’s imposition of restrictions on RBD palm oil, she added, referring to refined palm oil.

“Despite these developments, the ministry will continuously engage these markets, including through diplomatic channels, to seek amicable solutions to restore market confidence and further strengthen existing and potential markets.”

Malaysia aims to boost palm oil use for biodiesel to 1.3 million tonnes a year through the B20 and B7 programmes for the transport and industrial sectors, she added.

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Updated Date: Jan 16, 2020 12:15:45 IST