KUALA LUMPUR: Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok urges more businesses in Malaysia to take advantage of the MICECA to buy more raw sugar and beef from India, with a view to address the trade imbalance.
“Malaysian companies are encouraged to import more products by leveraging the preferential treatment accorded under the Malaysia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (MICECA),” she said in a statement today.
This is in view of India being a significant buyer of Malaysian palm oil. In the first nine months of this year, Malaysian Palm Oil Board's data revealed Malaysia shipped 3.91 million tonnes of palm oil to India.
Last year, Kok highlighted India bought RM6.84 billion worth of palm oil and palm-based products, which make up 10 per cent of total shipment of the kitchen staple, out of Malaysian shores.
Two months ago, Kok met up with India's Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal. He highlighted Malaysia's exports to India stood at US$10.8 billion in the 2018/19 fiscal, and imports from New Delhi only totalled US$6.4 billion.
Yesterday, in Malaysia, Kok presided over a discussion on Malaysia-India trade imbalance with Ministry of International Trade and Industry, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry.
“Malaysia is open to further trade negotiations to address India’s concerns on the trade imbalance. For six decades, multi-faceted ties have been mutually benefiting the people in both countries,” she said.
Kok also said she was aware of news reports of "issues that threaten the good ties between Malaysia and India."
This was after Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had, at the United Nations General Assembly, said India had "invaded and occupied" Jammu and Kashmir and asked New Delhi to work with Pakistan to resolve the issue.
His comments had sparked angry reactions on the Internet, with Indian social media users calling for #BoycottMalaysia
Last week, a newswire report citing unnamed government and industry sources, said India was considering restricting imports of Malaysian products, including palm oil.
When asked to comment, Dr Mahathir had, on different occasions, explained Malaysia's position.
“That is only reported by the media. We have not received anything official about any trade ban from India.
"We don’t give criticism to side with anyone, but we call for both parties (India and Pakistan) to discuss, use arbitration or go to the court of law, not to resort to violence," Dr Mahathir had said.
"I have told India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi to contact me, if he is unhappy or dissatisfied.
"We will study the impact of any actions India may take. They are exporting goods to Malaysia, too. It’s not just one-way trade, it’s two-way trade,” Dr Mahathir had reportedly said.