India's minister says no curbs imposed on imports from Malaysia, Turkey

Updated January 16, 2020

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India has already stopped importing palm oil from Malaysia by asking importers to look elsewhere. — Reuters/File
India has already stopped importing palm oil from Malaysia by asking importers to look elsewhere. — Reuters/File

India's Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal on Thursday said that New Delhi has not imposed any curbs on imports from Malaysia and Turkey.

“India believes in free play and equal treatment for all,” Goyal said at a security conference in New Delhi, adding that the government also was not contemplating any restrictions on the two countries.

On Wednesday, Reuters had reported that India is planning to cut some imports from Turkey and widen restrictions on Malaysia, targeting the two Muslim-majority countries for their criticism of New Delhi's policy towards Kashmir.

Goyal said that any curbs will apply to all countries uniformly. “And if some of the restrictions impact Malaysia, I don't think that will be the only country impacted,” he said.

India, the world’s biggest buyer of edible oils, has already effectively stopped importing palm oil from Malaysia by asking Indian importers to look elsewhere.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said recently that India was “invading and occupying the country” of Jammu and Kashmir and Turkey’s Tayyip Erdogan had said Kashmiris are “virtually under blockade”.

The Indian government withdrew the autonomy of occupied Kashmir last year to tighten its grip on the region, shutting down internet access and detaining activists and politicians.

India’s Supreme Court last week ruled an indefinite shutdown of the internet in Kashmir was illegal.

Tension between India and Malaysia, the world’s second-biggest producer and exporter of palm oil after Indonesia, further escalated after 94-year-old Mahathir criticised India’s new citizenship law that critics say discriminates against Muslims.

Turkey meanwhile has sided with Pakistan on issues such as its membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which oversees the export of goods that can be used for nuclear weapons manufacturing.

Turkey is also against the blacklisting of Pakistan by the world financial watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force, to curb its alleged financing of terror, something India has been lobbying for hard.

Indian trade data indicates that overall imports from both Malaysia and Turkey had already taken a hit last year.