Teresa Kok tries to downplay India’s palm oil boycott

(FMT) – Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok has called for calm after an influential Indian trade body urged its members to boycott Malaysian palm oil.

Kok said she was concerned over the advisory from the Solvent Extractor’s Association (SEA) of India, given the significant and long-standing trade relations between Malaysia and India.

Just last month, she said, she attended a key event hosted by SEA at GlobOil, Mumbai as their guest of honour.

“We have always fostered excellent working relations with SEA who are the conduit for various edible oil processors in India.

“While we try to understand the underlying sentiment associated with the SEA advisory with respect to Malaysian palm oil imports, we feel this is a major setback in our progressing cooperation and working relations,” she said in a statement

Kok urged SEA not to make any unilateral decisions and allow the governments of both countries to resolve the issue at hand.

She said it was important for SEA and the Malaysian palm oil industry to continue to work together and act as a bridge to promote better ties between the two countries.

“Let’s work together for the long term benefit of all the stakeholders in the vegetable oil industry,” she said, adding that Malaysia and India shared a long-rooted historical and cultural commonality on top of a good diplomatic and trade relationship.

“We have regularly looked towards India to provide technology innovations particularly in the processing of palm oil and I acknowledge wholeheartedly the pioneering role played by Indian entrepreneurs when the Malaysian refining industry was at its infancy,” she said.

She said Putrajaya was seriously exploring various opportunities to enhance bilateral trade, noting that aside from palm oil, Malaysia’s trade with India included oil and gas, automobiles, chemicals, electrical and electronics, food and other finished goods.

It was previously reported that SEA advised its members, who are oilseed crushers, against buying Malaysian palm oil, taking a cue from New Delhi’s protest against Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s remarks on the Kashmir conflict.