Shun Malaysia, India's palm oil buyers told amid Kashmir standoff
By Rajendra Jadhav and Aftab Ahmed NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's top vegetable oil trade body on Monday asked its members to stop buying palm oil from Malaysia, an unprecedented call aimed at helping New Delhi punish the country for criticising India over its policy towards Kashmir.
By Rajendra Jadhav and Aftab Ahmed
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India's top vegetable oil trade body on Monday asked its members to stop buying palm oil from Malaysia, an unprecedented call aimed at helping New Delhi punish the country for criticising India over its policy towards Kashmir.
The directive by the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEAI) shows how nationalist sentiments can affect international business, and is a big blow to Malaysia, the world's second largest producer and exporter of palm oil after Indonesia.
India was Malaysia's third-largest export destination in 2018 for palm oil and palm-based products worth 6.84 billion ringgit ($1.63 billion). Vegetable oil contributed 2.8% of Malaysia's gross domestic product last year and 4.5% to total exports.
The SEAI's decision could weigh on the Malaysian benchmark palm oil contract for January delivery
"Our government has not taken kindly to the unprovoked pronouncements by the Malaysian prime minister and is contemplating some retaliatory action," SEAI President Atul Chaturvedi said in a statement carrying a note to its members.
"It would be in fitness of things, as responsible Indian vegetable oil industry, we avoid purchasing of palm oil from Malaysia till such time clarity on the way forward emerges from Indian government."
He said the guidance was issued in its own interest as well as a mark of solidarity with the country.
Reuters reported that India was considering curbing imports of some products from Malaysia, including palm oil, after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said last month that India had "invaded and occupied" Kashmir, a disputed Muslim-majority region also claimed by Pakistan.
India stripped its portion of the Kashmir valley of statehood and autonomy on Aug. 5.
Some Indian traders said refiners had already stopped buying Malaysian palm oil for shipment in November and December, fearing higher import taxes or other measures. In any case, household palm oil consumption falls in India during winter as the tropical oil solidifies at lower temperature.
"After the Reuters story, many importers stopped buying Malaysian palm oil," said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to talk to media.
"Now since the trade body has issued an advisory, almost all refiners will stop buying. In the last one week alone, I saw two buyers switching to Indonesia from Malaysia."
India's government has rebuked Malaysia for its stance on Kashmir but has not commented on any trade measures. India's trade ministry declined to comment.
Malaysia said last week it was considering raising imports of raw sugar and buffalo meat from India, in a bid to ease the trade tensions.
Earlier in the day, Malaysian state news agency Bernama quoted the chief of the Malaysian Palm Oil Association as saying that curbing purchases from the country would hurt India, too.
But the SEAI said there was no dearth of options.
"This rare advisory we issued considering rising tensions between Malaysia and India," SEAI Executive Director B.V. Mehta told Reuters. "There are many alternatives to Malaysian supplies that our refiners can easily tap."
(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav and Aftab Ahmed; writing by Krishna N. Das, editing by Alison Williams, Ed Osmond, Larry King)
This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.
U.S. home sales fall as tight supply boosts prices | Reuters
France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters
By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States
China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters
BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.