Turkey and Malaysia would be feeling some of the Pakistan heat as New Delhi considers leveraging its market and economic muscle to retaliate against these countries for their public statements on Kashmir as well as support to Pakistan at the FATF. For the present, the Indian government is content to allow popular discontent to show itself as traders stop buying Malaysian palm oil and social media trends with #boycottmalaysia. Reports have quoted industry representatives as saying that Indian importers and refiners are moving palm oil purchases from Malaysia to Indonesia. India is the world’s largest buyer of palm oil. The government will watch for reactions from Malaysia before taking the next step.
Putting a brave face on it, Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohammed was quoted as saying that his government would “work diplomatically” with India to resolve the trade problems if indeed India did take such action. There has been no official word from India, and for the moment the Modi government plans to keep it that way. Traders though are sensing growing government chill towards Malaysia and this is impacting their buying behavior.“We have not received anything officially. This is the reaction from the business community. Hence, we cannot react to their personal decisions … If the (Indian) government launched a boycott or something like that, then we will have to work diplomatically or reduce the kind of action that they have taken,” he told journalists. Reports said Malaysia may up its purchases of bovine meat from India to placate India.
In September, India raised taxes on refined palm oil from Malaysia to 50 percent from 45 percent for six months ostensibly to protect domestic refiners. But it coincided with Malaysia’s refusal to proceed further with the extradition of Islamist preacher Zakir Naik as well as Malaysia’s stand on Kashmir at the UN.
Prime minister Modi had invested in Malaysia, being virtually the first foreign leader to drop in on Mahathir after his re-election to congratulate him. India wants an improved relationship with Malaysia, sources said, but Kuala Lumpur would have to take important steps towards India. This was not helped by Mahathir walking back from a commitment he had made to Modi in Vladivostok about extraditing Zakir Naik to India. Also, Mahathir accused India of “invading and occupying” Kashmir in his remarks at the UNGA. Swift verbal retaliation followed from India.
However, according to reports, Malaysia went along with the consensus at the FATF to place Pakistan on an enhanced greylist for non-compliance in combatting terror funding.
India has already taken action against a Turkish defense company Anadolu Shipyard to build support ships for the Indian navy and barred the Turkish company from the huge Indian defense market. In addition to Turkey’s open support for Pakistan, it appears Turkey is building ships for the Pakistan navy as well. In media reports, quoted Indian defense ministry officials said this made the Turkish company a security threat.
Last week, India took a tough stand against Turkey’s decision to invade Syria, unusual by Indian government standards. This was seen as a retaliation for Turkey’s actions against India.