Economy, Asia - Pacific

India to stop buying Malaysian palm oil

Move comes as Malaysia criticizes New Delhi on citizenship law, Kashmir

Zehra Nur Duz   | 09.01.2020
India to stop buying Malaysian palm oil


India restricted the import of palm oil from Malaysia as part of its retaliation against the southeast Asian nation for criticizing New Delhi on Kashmir and its new citizenship law.

India imposed restrictions on palm oil and palmolein Wednesday, amending it from “Free” to “Restricted,” according to a notification issued by Commerce Ministry.

The move targets Malaysia, the main supplier to India of refined palm oil and palmolein.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said New Delhi "invaded and occupied" Jammu and Kashmir during his address to the UN General Assembly in September, and refused to budge from demanding the UN intervene to solve the dispute.

India was among top three buyers of Malaysia’s palm oil and palm-based products in 2018. It exported 6.84 billion ringgit ($1.65 billion) of palm oil to India.

The move will likely cost Malaysia in foreign exchange as India is the world’s biggest importer of palm oil.

Disputed region

Jammu and Kashmir has been under a near-complete lockdown since the Indian government’s move Aug. 5 to scrap the special status of the territory.

Several rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, have repeatedly urged India to lift restrictions and release political detainees.

India said 93% of restrictions have been eased in the conflict-ridden region, a claim Anadolu Agency could not independently verify.

From 1954 until Aug. 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir enjoyed special status under the Indian Constitution, which allowed it to enact its own laws.

The provisions also protected the region's citizenship law, which barred outsiders from settling iand owning land.

India and Pakistan both hold Kashmir in parts and claim it in full. China also controls part of the contested region, but India and Pakistan have fought two wars over Kashmir.

New Citizenship Law

India’s new citizenship law, officially known as Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), brought by Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government earlier this month triggered mass condemnation and protests during which more than 20 people have lost their lives.

The law will grant citizenship to at least six minorities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who migrated to India before Dec. 31, 2014. Muslims are not included in the list.

A social media campaign handle by Modi asked followers to boost the Twitter hashtag to shore up support for the new law.

Mass violence and human rights abuses have been reported from several parts of India during the anti-government protests over the new law.

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