Malaysian Trade Minister To Seek Parley With Indian Trade Minister At Davos
India has repeatedly objected to Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad speaking out against its recent policies which critics say discriminate against Muslims. However Mahathir does not seem to be listening.
So unofficially, India has already hit out at Malaysia by reducing the Palm Oil import from the country, till date its biggest supplier. Malaysia, a Muslim-majority nation, is the second biggest producer and exporter of palm oil and India’s restrictions on the refined variety of the commodity imposed last week have been seen as a retaliation for Mahathir’s criticism of New Delhi’s actions. Though Union minister Piyush Goyal denied on Thursday that the government was trying to hit out at Malaysia in particular.
The row between the countries, nevertheless, pushed benchmark Malaysian palm futures to its biggest weekly decline in more than 11 years on Friday.
There were a total of 117,733 Indian nationals registered as foreign labour in Malaysia as at June 2019, accounting for nearly 6% of the total foreign workforce in the country. Ethnic Malaysian-Indians are the third-largest community in the Southeast Asian country.
So the Malaysian Government too can impose restrictions but it will overall hurt Malaysia much more. Sudden pulling out of this kind of work force will throw everything in a chaos inside Malaysia. As a next step the entire tourism from India to Malaysia will also just dry up, causing enormous losses to Malaysia.
Thus it was reported that Malaysia did not want to escalate the palm spat with India by talking of any retaliation for now, after Mahathir’s media adviser called for tighter regulations on Indian expatriates and products. Malaysia instead wants to rely on diplomacy.
Trade ministers from India and Malaysia are likely to meet on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos next week amid a palm oil spat between the two countries, a Malaysian government spokesman told on Friday.
No agenda has been set for the proposed meeting between Goyal and his Malaysian counterpart Darell Leiking on Friday, the spokesman for Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry said, adding that the request for a meeting had come from India.
Another reason for frosty ties between the countries is the continued presence of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik in Malaysia, said one of the sources.
Naik, who faces charges of money laundering and hate speech in India, has lived in Malaysia for more than three years and has permanent residency in the country. He denies the Indian accusations.