The anti-India rhetoric by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Malayasian Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad over Kashmir has certainly not gone down well with the Indian administration, which seems to have initiated proactive diplomatic steps to counter uncalled interference by these nations in India’s internal affairs. While India has emerged as a sustainable and credible partner towards a stable world order; Pakistan has been exposed as a clear aggressor and a dangerous risk to peace in the region over the past decades and now with Turkey and Malaysia towing the line of the terror sponsoring regime in Islamabad over Jammu and Kashmir, diplomatic problems of these nations are poised to mount further.
A recent Reuters report pointed towards the same with India considering restricting imports of some products from Malaysia including palm oil. According to the report India is planning to substitute Malaysian palm oil, which makes a major portion of imports from Malaysia with trade of around 3.9 million tonnes in just the first nine months of 2019 making India the largest buyer of palm oil from Malaysia, with supplies of edible oils from countries such as Indonesia, Argentina and Ukraine.
About 96-98% of palm oil consumed by India is imported. India currently imposes a 40% import duty on crude palm oil and 50% on refined palm oils. However, shipments of refined palm oils from Malaysia have since January been levied a 45% duty under the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) with Malaysia, leading to a surge in refined palm imports in the first seven months of 2019.
While for Turkey, supporting Pakistan could not only trickle down to economic actions but also a firm Indian stance against Turkey’s strategic interests. India on Thursday slammed Turkey for taking unilateral military offensive in northeast Syria, pointing towards the risk of destabilising the region and undermining the fight against terrorism.
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said, “We are deeply concerned at the unilateral military offensive by Turkey in north-east Syria.”
Earlier reports had also indicated towards a review of an FSS project with an estimated cost of $2.3 billion which was been undertaken by Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) in collaboration with Turkish M/s Anadolu Shipyard is expected to be put on a hold. Nonetheless, change in India’s stance towards Turkey has been evident since the 74th session of the UNGA itself, where the Indian Prime Minister had met the Armenia PM Nikol Pashinyan and Cyprus President Nicos Anastasiades on the side-lines. By holding top-level meetings with Cyprus and Armenia, countries which have been wronged by Turkey in the past, India had also sent across a strong message to the Turkish President, Erdogan.
Nonetheless for both Turkey and Malaysia, Indian diplomatic actions are sure to have a major impact. On one end the bilateral trade between India and Malaysia stands at around a whopping $12 billion, with imports from Malaysia to India being on a rising trend over the past few years. The Free Trade agreement signed between the two governments in 2011 had also given a massive push to the bilateral trade. Since the same year custom duty on more than 1200 products has also been reduced or removed completely. However given the aggressive nature of Malaysian PM any move by India to revise its Palm oil import policies will significantly impact the related industry in Malaysia. India had recently increased the import duty on Palm oil by 5 % and any further increase would once and for all cripple Malaysian palm oil exports to India.
Malaysian industries have also been working closely with India in critical fields of Information Technology and defence. India and Malaysia had also signed three important agreements for cooperation in the field of cyber security, cultural exchange and administration with a view to further deepening defence, economic and cultural relations and now considering the current geo-political developments any hindrance to transfer of these technologies to Malaysia would be highly detrimental to Malaysian companies and their employees
On the other end the bilateral trade between India and Turkey had been on a downtrend and declined by 28% to $4.91 billion in 2015-16, the two sides had agreed to boost trade to at least $10 billion by 2020. As India remains Turkey’s second largest trading partner in Asia Pacific, several Turkish companies have been heavily involved in business in India including the Celebi Aviation Company which has bagged massive contracts to run India’s airports. Nonetheless, with recent developments India has clearly indicated that any agenda detrimental to India’s strategic and national interest will be met with swift and diligent diplomatic actions.