‘We Are Too Small To Take Retaliatory Action’: Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad On India Restricting Palm Oil Imports

Swarajya Staff

Jan 21, 2020, 11:25 AM | Updated 11:25 AM IST

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. (How Hwee Young - Pool/GettyImages).
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. (How Hwee Young - Pool/GettyImages).

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Monday (20 January) said that his government will not take retaliatory trade action against India over its curbs on palm oil purchases from the South East Asian country.

India, the world's largest edible oil buyer, this month effectively halted imports from its largest supplier and the world's second-biggest producer in response to comments from Mahathir attacking India's domestic policies, reports Business Standard,

"We are too small to take retaliatory action," Mahathir told reporters in Langkawi, a resort island off the western coast of Malaysia. "We have to find ways and means to overcome that," he added.

The 94-year-old Malaysian PM over the past few months had criticised India for what New Delhi had called its internal matters including scrapping the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and citizenship amendment act.

India, which has announced curbs on Malaysian palm oil imports on 8 January, is now increasing the import of palm oil from Indonesia to meet its domestic demand.

The Indian government’s decision to curb palm oil imports has sent benchmark Malaysian palm futures to their worst weekly fall in more than 11 years on Friday (18 January) as India has been the largest market for the Malaysian palm oil exporters for last five years.

Following India’s decision, thousands of tonnes of refined palm oil are delayed or stuck at various Indian ports.

"More than 30,000 tonnes have been stuck at various (Indian) ports. All these vessels were loaded before the government restricted imports of refined palm oil," said a Mumbai-based vegetable oil dealer, who declined to be named citing company policy.

"Usually customs officials allow unloading of commodities that are in transit before any change in regulation. But in the case of refined palm oil, there is some confusion and that is leading to delays,” the dealer added.

Get Swarajya in your inbox.