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Exclusive: India may restrict imports of palm oil, other goods from Malaysia - sources

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By Aftab Ahmed and Rajendra Jadhav

NEWDELHI/MUMBAI (Reuters) – India is considering restricting imports of some products from Malaysia including palm oil, according to government and industry sources, in reaction to the Southeast Asian country’s leader slamming New Delhi for its actions in Kashmir.

New Delhi is looking for ways to limit palm oil imports and may place restrictions on other goods from the country, said a government source and an industry source who participated in discussions led by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on the planned restrictions.

The sources asked not to be named as the proposal is still under discussion.

India’s government was angered after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad alleged last month at the United Nations that India had “invaded and occupied” Jammu and Kashmir and asked New Delhi to work with Pakistan to resolve the issue.

The government wants to send a strong signal of its displeasure to Malaysian authorities, the sources said.

India, the world’s biggest importer of edible oils, is planning to substitute Malaysian palm oil with supplies of edible oils from countries like Indonesia, Argentina and Ukraine, said the sources.

Palm oil accounts for nearly two-thirds of India’s total edible oil imports. India buys more than 9 million tonnes of palm oil annually, mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia.

In the first nine months of 2019 India was the biggest buyer of Malaysian palm oil, taking 3.9 million tonnes, according to data compiled by the Malaysian Palm Oil Board.

A spokeswoman for India’s commerce ministry said the ministry cannot comment on things that are under consideration.

(Reporting by Aftab Ahmed and Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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