India is the world’s biggest palm oil importer but its purchases from Malaysia, the second-biggest palm exporter behind Indonesia. Malaysia and India will work on improving ties that soured under former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and badly affected palm oil trade between the countries, officials from both nations said on Sunday.
Malaysia swore in a new Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, after last week’s resignation by the outspoken Mahathir, after a power battle in his coalition government.
Wee Ka Siong, a lawmaker expected to gain a ministerial post, said that mending ties is a priority because Malaysian palm oil producers have been suffering because of India’s effective ban on purchases.
“Can we just renegotiate? It’s for my country as well as for my people,” Wee told Reuters. “Since we are a new government, let the PM, the new government deal with it. We treasure the friendship with India.” India could also invite the new Malaysian prime minister, Muhyiddin Yassin, for a visit this year.
An Indian official with knowledge of the matter said that New Delhi is also keen to improve bilateral ties, including palm oil trading, provided that Malaysia keeps out of India’s domestic affairs.
India accounted for nearly a quarter of Malaysia’s total palm oil exports last year and has been the biggest buyer of Malaysian palm oil for five years.