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Mini-trade war on horizon: Malaysian blog

Malaysia is hurting with India’s import of Indonesian palm oil at a higher price but will there be an end to this tit-for-tat attack from New Delhi?

A mini-trade war between Malaysia and India is on the horizon. Finance Twitter says New Delhi’s threat to boycott Malaysian palm oil import could spark such a conflict.

It suggests India’s government has privately told importers to boycott Malaysian palm products.

The blog pits Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this purported mini-trade war.

There is no official Indian boycott of Malaysian palm oil. But there are rifts among officials and a call to Indian palm oil importers to stop importing Malaysian palm oil.

Finance Twitter also suggests India’s boycott call is a private affair. It is not a public matter as it is an attempt by the Indian government to pressure local importers.

A notification from the Indian Ministry of Commerce and Industry says the import of ‘refined’ palm oil and palmolein from Malaysia is now “Restricted”.

Sources say the Indian government initiated a boycott call against Malaysia after Dr Mahathir’s comments on the Kashmir issue.

During the KL Summit in December, Dr Mahathir refrained from making further comments on the Indian boycott threat.

It says the Malaysian premier has been provoking the Modi administration on issues linked to religion.

It may be talking about fugitive Islamic preacher Zakir Naik though it did not specify.

The Indian government is pursuing Naik for crimes the latter denies he committed.

But Malaysia failed to respect an agreement between both nations to deport fugitives wanted by the Indian government or police.

Finance Twitter says Mahathir is pushing his status as the champion in the Muslim world. But the Indian premier so far has refused to take the bait and is gearing for a fight.

“Instead, Mr Modi chooses to quietly punish Mr Mahathir, where it hurts the most — the Malay Felda vote bank.”

Besides the local political implications, Finance Twitter says the boycott hurts most with India’s import of Indonesian palm oil products.

It says Malaysia’s pain is Indonesia’s gain. It adds that Indian refiners and traders are willing to pay an extra US$10 per tonne for Indonesian palm oil.

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