JAKARTA: A diplomatic row between Malaysia and India has spilled over into trade relations between the two countries.
India was angered after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said New Delhi had “invaded and occupied” Jammu and Kashmir during his address in New York City at the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 27.
“We felt that the people of Kashmir had benefited from the UN resolution, and all countries should abide by it, not just India or Pakistan but even the United States. Otherwise, what’s the use of having the UN?” Mahathir told reporters in Kuala Lumpur on October 22.
He also criticised India for revoking the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, which has a Muslim majority population.
As a result, numerous posts with the hashtag #BoycottMalaysia from users in India were trending on Twitter. Malaysian users responded with #BoycottIndia tweets.
Mahathir admitted that his remarks at the UN had strained ties between the two countries and described the current situation as a “trade war” between the world’s biggest exporter of palm oil and largest buyer of the commodity.
The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEAI) on Monday asked its 875 members to stop buying Malaysian palm oil due to Mahathir’s firm stance over the Kashmir issue.
“In your own interest as well as a mark of solidarity with our nation, we should avoid purchases from Malaysia for the time being. We trust you will heed our advice,” said SEAI president Atul Chaturvedi in a statement.
Malaysia will most likely lose a lot in foreign exchange as India is the world’s biggest importer of palm oil. In 2018, Malaysia exported 6.84 billion ringgit (US$1.65 billion) worth of palm oil to India.
But Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said the Malaysian government was not worried about the palm oil embargo.
“India never [officially] said they wanted to boycott or ban the import of palm oil from Malaysia. The statement came from the traders association, not the Indian government,” she said.