2 min read.Updated: 15 Oct 2019, 06:35 PM ISTReuters
To ease trade tensions Kuala Lumpur is considering raising imports of raw sugar and buffalo meat from India
Decision taken in light of India's importance as Malaysia's third-largest export destination in 2018 for palm oil and palm-based products worth $1.63 billion
KUALA LUMPUR :
Malaysia is considering raising imports of raw sugar and buffalo meat from India, potentially easing trade tensions after reports New Delhi could restrict Malaysian palm oil imports following the country's criticism of India's actions in Kashmir.
Malaysia is the world's second largest producer and exporter of palm oil after Indonesia. Its benchmark palm oil futures recouped losses to end higher on Tuesday after the announcement by the country's government.
The country's Ministry of Primary Industries, which handles palm oil matters, said in a statement that it made the decision in light of India's importance as Malaysia's third-largest export destination in 2018 for palm oil and palm-based products worth 6.84 billion ringgit ($1.63 billion).
"The minister views with concern recent news reports regarding unfavourable bilateral relations between Malaysia and India as both countries have enjoyed strong and comprehensive relations for more than six decades," the statement said, referring to Teresa Kok, the Malaysian minister in charge of the palm oil portfolio.
"Malaysia is open to further trade negotiations to address India’s concerns on the trade imbalance between both countries."
The edible oil contributed 2.8% of Malaysia's gross domestic product last year and 4.5% to total exports. The palm oil industry is one of the biggest employers in the Southeast Asian country of 32 million people.
The statement added that Malaysia was also considering importing raw sugar from India from next year. India is the world's biggest exporter of buffalo meat and the biggest producer of sugar, which it is struggling to export due to weak global prices.
Reuters reported last week that India was considering curbing imports of some products from Malaysia, including palm oil, after Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said at the UN general assembly last month that India had "invaded and occupied" Kashmir, a disputed Muslim-majority region also claimed by Pakistan.