Malaysia is too small a nation to respond to India’s boycott of palm oil with trade retaliation, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Monday.
“We are too small to take retaliatory action. We have to find ways and means to overcome that,” Mahathir said in Langkawi, a resort island off the western coast of Malaysia.
India, the world’s largest edible oil buyer, this month halted Malaysian palm oil imports after Mahathir’s comments on Kashmir and new citizenship bill.
The move from India came after the 94-year-old premier of Muslim-majority Malaysia criticised New Delhi’s citizenship law amendment act which enables an easier path to Indian nationality for religiously persecuted minorities from neighboring theocratic states. He also falsely accused India of invading the region of Kashmir, which by all definitions has always been an integral part of the country, both culturally and politically.
India has been Malaysia’s top import market since 2014, according to industry data.
Last year, India bought 4.4 million tonnes of palm oil from Malaysia, accounting for 24% of all Malaysian palm oil exports.
The second biggest buyer of Malaysian palm oil, China, bought just 2.4 million tonnes last year, while the third largest buyer was Pakistan with 1.08 million tonnes, according to data from the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.
India is the seventh biggest market for all Malaysian exports, while Malaysia is India’s 17th largest export market.