Pak to buy palm oil from Malaysia

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KUALA LUMPUR: Pakistan will buy more palm oil from Malaysia, Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday, to try and compensate after top buyer India put curbs on Malaysian imports last month amid a diplomatic row.
India imposed general restrictions on refined palm oil imports, and informally asked traders specifically to stop buying from Malaysia, the world’s biggest producer of the edible oil. Sources said the move was in retaliation after Malaysia criticised India’s new religion-based citizenship law and its policy on Kashmir.
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Tuesday that he discussed palm oil with Khan who was on a visit to Malaysia and that Pakistan had indicated it would import more from Malaysia.
“That’s right, especially since we noticed India threatened Malaysia for supporting the Kashmir cause, threatened to cut palm oil imports,” Khan told a joint news conference, referring to Indian-occupied Muslim-majority region of Kashmir.
“Pakistan will do its best to compensate for that.”
India is a Hindu-majority country while Malaysia and Pakistan are mainly Muslim. India and Pakistan have been mostly hostile to each other since the partition of British India in 1947, and have fought two of their three wars over competing territorial claims in Kashmir.
Pakistan may have bought around 135,000 tonnes of Malaysian palm oil last month, a record high, India-based dealers who track such shipments told Reuters on condition of anonymity.
The figure is close to estimates of 141,500 tonnes from Refinitiv, which says sales to India in January may have plunged 80% from a year earlier to 40,400 tonnes.
Malaysia will release official export data on Monday.
Pakistan bought 1.1 million tonnes of palm oil from Malaysia last year, while India bought 4.4 million tonnes, according to the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.
India has repeatedly objected to Mahathir speaking out against its move last year to strip Kashmir’s autonomy and make it easier for non-Muslims from neighbouring Muslim-majority Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan to gain citizenship.
At the news conference, Mahathir did not refer to Kashmir but Khan did.
“The way you, PM, have stood with us and spoken about this injustice going on, on behalf of Pakistan I really want to thank you,” Khan said. He also said he was sad he could not attend a summit of Muslim leaders in Malaysia in December. Saudi Arabia did not attend the summit, saying it was the wrong forum to discuss matters affecting the world’s Muslims and Khan belatedly pulled out from attending.
Some Pakistani officials, unnamed because they were not authorised to speak to the media, said at the time that Khan pulled out under pressure from Saudi Arabia, a close ally of Pakistan, though local media reported his officials denied that was the reason for his absence.
“Unfortunately our friends, who are very close to Pakistan as well, felt that somehow the conference was going to divide the ummah,” Khan said, using the Arabic word for the Muslim community but not mentioning Saudi Arabia by name.
“It is clearly a misconception, as that was not the purpose of the conference.”
Moreover, Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Malaysian prime counterpart Mahathir Mohammed on Tuesday agreed to explore trade and investment potential of their countries for a relationship based on strong economic cooperation.
The two leaders at a joint press stake-out at PM Office Putrajaya spoke about the areas of collaboration, particularly trade, investment, defence, law enforcement, tourism and education.
Imran Khan, who paid a two-day visit to Malaysia on the invitation of Prime Minister Mahathir, said the purpose of his visit was to “further strengthen ties between Pakistan and Malaysia in view of their tremendous future in trade and investment cooperation”.
“We held talks based on the idea to develop much greater trade relationship, investment and joint collaboration in defence,” he said, about the one-on-one meeting with his Malaysian counterpart.
Imran Khan said Pakistan’s strategic location made it a big investment market particularly the access to Chinese market through China Pakistan Economic Corridor and its Special Economic Zones. Imran Khan thanked Prime Minister Mahathir for speaking up for Kashmiris, who faced a curfew for last six months by the Indian government.
“You have spoken for the justice for Kashmiris, for which we are thankful,” the prime minister said in reference to the categorical statements of Dr Mahathir on Kashmir from time to time that drew ire of India, cutting off of import of Malaysian palm oil.
“We noticed that India threatened Malaysia for supporting the Kashmir cause to cut their pal oil import, Pakistan will do its best to compensate for that,” he said.
Dr Mahathir termed the meeting with Imran Khan having “discussion on issues of common interest to open doors of opportunities for our people.”
“There is a new face of our relationship based on greater cooperation needed to meet the challenges of our time,” Mahathir said. Malaysian prime minister Dr Mahathir expressed “commitment to partnership in strengthening relations in best interest of both countries.”
“Prime Minister Imran Khan and I had a substantive discussion on bilateral cooperation as well as on regional and international issues,” he said, adding that it reflected the mutual commitment to strengthen a long history of bilateral relations. The two sides also agreed to increase exchange visits at all levels to set the tone of future course of bilateral relations.
Mahathir said the meeting called for further collaboration between various ministries and agencies of the two countries and welcomed the successful convening of bilateral consultations between senior officials of both ministries of Foreign Affairs as the key forum to intensify engagements at working level.
Mahathir said on economic cooperation, there existed huge potential in both countries to develop partnership particularly in trade and investments, and to establish network between various economies, and linkages among private sector. He reaffirmed the importance of Malaysia and Pakistan’s closer economic partnership signed on November 8th, 2007.–Agencies