No plans to meet India in Davos over palm oil, says minister

The sole focus of the Malaysian delegation to the WEF annual meeting is to attract potential investors, says Darell


THERE are no meetings scheduled in Davos, Switzerland, between Malaysia and India over the ongoing palm oil dispute, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking confirmed.

Darell said he has not established any contact with government officials in India or received any invitation for discussion with his Indian counterpart at the World Economic Forum (WEF) this week.

“The only invitation we received is for Davos. We have not arranged for any meeting with the minister, but we may bump into him,” he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

The minister said this after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of agreement between InvestKL and the Chinese Business Chambers to open a single window for all investment opportunities from China to Malaysia.

He added that the sole focus of the Malaysian delegation to the annual meeting of the WEF is to attract potential investors to the country.

It was reported that a meet-up could take place between Darell and India’s Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal in Davos to address concerns over India’s restriction on palm oil imports from Malaysia after Prime Minister (PM) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad took a stance on the Kashmir conflict and its new citizenship law.

India’s Trade Ministry, however, said while the two may be together as part of a larger meeting of trade ministers, there is no meeting planned as “the schedule is already finalised, and it’s full”, Reuters reported.

Malaysia is the world’s second-largest producer and exporter of palm oil, while India is the largest buyer of the commodity.

Dr Mahathir, who has been vocal over issues affecting the global Muslim population, said he will continue to speak out against things he considered to be wrong.

However, he also said Malaysia will not take retaliatory trade action against India over its alleged boycott of palm oil purchases. Goyal has denied that the country has imposed any curbs on imports from Malaysia.

“We are too small to take retaliatory action. We have to find ways and means to overcome that,” Dr Mahathir told reporters in Langkawi recently.

India has been Malaysia’s largest palm oil market for the past five years. A tit-for-tat dispute with India would see SouthEast Asia’s third-largest economy struggling to find new buyers for the commodity.

Malaysian palm futures fell nearly 10% last week, marking their biggest weekly decline in more than 11 years.

New Delhi is also unhappy with Malaysia’s refusal to revoke permanent resident status for Dr Zakir Naik. The controversial Indian Islamic preacher faces charges of money laundering and hate speech in India and has lived in Malaysia for about three years.