Malaysia engaging stakeholders in India over import curbs, says Kok

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok says she is in touch with the Indian high commissioner in Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR: Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok says her ministry is engaging with stakeholders in India amid reports New Delhi is stepping up curbs on imports from Malaysia.

It has been reported that India is seeking to target Malaysia after a series of criticisms by Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad on New Delhi’s policies, including over its new citizenship law which sparked protests across the subcontinent.

Earlier today, Reuters, quoting unnamed officials, reported that India was planning to widen its restrictions on imports from Malaysia to include petroleum, liquefied natural gas and computer parts after restricting the import of refined palm oil.

Kok said it was important for Malaysia to continue to engage the government and stakeholders in India through diplomatic channels.

“I’m in touch with the Indian high commissioner,” she said after officiating the Palm Oil Economic Review and Outlook Seminar 2020 today.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Palm Oil Board (MPOB) director-general Ahmad Parveez Ghulam Kadir said they were forecasting lower exports to India because Malaysia no longer enjoyed the 5% duty advantage for refined palm oil under the Malaysia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (MICECA).

“Last year, under the MICECA, we had a 5% advantage and that was why you could see a drastic increase in exports to India,” he said at the event.

Parveez said MPOB expected 2020 to be a better year for the palm oil industry in terms of stronger prices and higher demand.

He predicted that export revenue from palm oil products would increase by 21% to RM78 billion this year from RM64.45 billion last year due to firmer crude palm oil (CPO) prices.

He said MPOB was also forecasting production to increase from 19.86 million tonnes in 2019 to 20.20 million tonnes this year.

Parveez said palm oil exports were expected to dip 2.5% from 18.47 million tonnes last year to 18 million metric tonnes, mostly due to a drop of exports to India.

As a result, palm oil stocks were expected to increase from 2.01 million tonnes in 2019 to 2.3 million tonnes in 2020.

Still, he said, palm oil export revenue was expected to increase due to higher CPO prices and demand due to the greater utilisation of biodiesel in the transport sector in Malaysia and Indonesia.