MPI calls on India’s SEA to withdraw palm oil advisory


THE Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) has called on the Solvent Extractor’s Association (SEA) of India to withdraw its decision to halt palm oil trading with Malaysia.

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok said the development is viewed “with great concern”, given the significant and long-standing trade relations shared between the two nations.

“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 relationship,” she said at the Palm Oil Supply and Demand Outlook Conference 2019 in Bangi yesterday.

“I urge SEA to not take such decisions unilaterally and allow both governments to resolve the current situation,” Kok added.

Reiterating Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s statement on the matter, Kok said Malaysia has yet to receive any official notification from the Indian government on the association’s move.

“According to the PM’s statement, I don’t think we have received anything as it is a call by the SEA leaders.

“For this matter, I will leave it to the PM and the foreign affairs minister to handle,” she said.

Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Musdhalifah Machmud, who was also present at the conference, said Indonesia has not received any requests on preferential tariffs from India.

“It’s a business-to-business partnership. Let them talk about who can buy and who can sell.

“The government of Indonesia promotes exports. The most important thing is to not keep the price too low,” she said.

On Monday, SEA president Atul Chaturvedi reportedly advised members of the Mumbai-based association to cease palm oil trading with Malaysia, signalling New Delhi’s protest against Dr Mahathir’s remarks on the Jammu and Kashmir conflict.

The PM’s remarks at the 74th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) were not favoured by the Indian government, Atul said.

In August, the Indian administration revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s legal autonomous status and imposed several unprecedented security measures, including shutting off phone and Internet services to prevent possible protests.

At the UNGA, Dr Mahathir said the Jammu and Kashmir region, which is administered by India, had been invaded and occupied despite the UN resolution. He also called on the Indian government to work with Pakistan to resolve the problem.

Dr Mahathir said on Monday that Malaysia will not retract the statement.

“We felt that the people of Kashmir had benefitted from the resolution of the UN and all we are saying is that we should all abide by it, not just India and Pakistan, but even the US and other countries,” he said.

India was Malaysia’s largest export destination in 2018, with 2.5 million tonnes of palm oil shipments worth US$1.65 billion (RM6.9 billion) entering the country.