Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has pledged to buy more palm oil from Malaysia to help offset India’s curbs on Malaysian imports, Reuters reports.
Tensions between Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Malaysia have resulted from New Delhi’s new citizenship law passed in December, offering amnesty to non-Muslim illegal immigrants, and its revoking of Indian-administered Kashmir’s special constitutional status last August.
On 8 January, India changed the import status of refined bleached and deodorised (RBD) palm oil and RBD palm olein from ‘free’ to ‘restricted’, meaning importers now require a licence or permission for inbound shipments.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on 4 February that he had discussed palm oil with Khan, who was on a visit to Malaysia, and he had indicated that Pakistan would import more from the world’s second largest palm oil producer.
“That’s right, especially since we noticed India threatened Malaysia for supporting the Kashmir cause, threatened to cut palm oil imports,” Reuters reported Khan as saying. “Pakistan will do its best to compensate for that.”
Pakistan bought 1.1M tonnes of palm oil from Malaysia last year, while India bought 4.4M tonnes, according to Malaysian Palm Oil Council figures.
Shipping data from Refinitiv showed Pakistan may have imported 141,500 tonnes of Malaysian palm oil in January, while Malaysian sales to India may have plunged 80% from a year earlier to 40,400 tonnes, Reuters said.
Muslim-majority Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over competing territorial claims in Kashmir, Reuters said.
India is the world’s largest importer of vegetable oil, buying nearly 15M tonnes/year, of which palm oil comprised 9M tonnes, The Times of India wrote.