India weighs trade curbs on Turkey, Malaysia over Kashmir comments


By Vrishti Beniwal

India is considering placing curbs on some imports from Turkey and Malaysia, in response to their leaders’ comments on the autonomy of Kashmir, people familiar with the matter said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government is exploring the possibility of both tariff and non-tariff measures to limit import of goods from the two countries, the people said, asking not to be identified as a final decision is yet to be taken. The options include stringent quality tests and a safeguard tax in addition to existing levies, they said.


Bilateral Trade

While India’s bilateral trade with the two was only 2.9% of its total in the fiscal year ended March 31, New Delhi enjoys a trade surplus with Turkey and runs a deficit with Malaysia on account of its reliance on imported palm oil. Futures in Kuala Lumpur fell on Tuesday after an influential Indian processors’ group asked its members to refrain from buying the tropical oil from the second-largest producer.

Spokespersons for India’s finance and commerce ministries couldn’t immediately be reached for a comment.


‘Invaded’ Kashmir

India last month increased customs duty on refined palm oil import from Malaysia by 5% for six months as a measure to safeguard the domestic industry. The duty could be further increased, the people said.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Tuesday said the country won’t bring the palm oil issue with India to the World Trade Organization “at the moment” and he won’t retract his comments claiming India had “invaded and occupied” Kashmir.

Modi separately canceled a planned visit to Ankara this year to show displeasure over Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comments over Kashmir at the United Nations General Assembly. Erdogan had urged India to hold talks with Pakistan following Modi’s August decision to revoke autonomy in Kashmir.

Key imports from Turkey are mineral fuels and oils, nuclear reactors and salt.

There is an informal instruction from India’s foreign ministry to go slow on all diplomatic and business relationship with Turkey and Malaysia as part of retaliatory measures, Business Standard reported, citing government officials it didn’t identify.

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