Leveraging its economic power and global standing against countries that are crossing its core national interests, the Modi government is vigorously mulling to use trade curbs.
Of late Malaysia and Turkey have annoyed India by criticising the decision on abrogation of Article 370. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan criticised India’s Kashmir move at the United Nations on September 24.
Turkey and Malaysia are also two among the three countries that have helped Pakistan stay away from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklist.
Erdoğan had also backed Pakistan at the (FATF) meet in Paris, following which India has decided to give the cold shoulder to Turkey.
Expressing its displeasure over the outburst India first cancelled a two-day official visit to Ankara by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A USD 2.3 billion contract to a Turkish company, Anadolu Shipyard, to build fleet support ships for the Indian Navy is expected to be put on hold. The Turkish firm had won the global bid for building five vessels. India is also cutting down exports of military equipment and dual-use items like explosives and detonators to Turkey, given its growing defence ties with Pakistan.
India joined the international chorus against Turkish military action in Syria and issued a travel advisory warning to Indian citizens to not visit the country. More than 150,000 Indians visited Turkey till August end this year. This is 55 pc more than the last year. More and more Indians prefer Turkey as a wedding destination. New Delhi is currently examining reducing the number of flights operated by Turkish Airlines to and from India.
India is also tightening its position on Malaysia after its 94-year old Prime Minister Mahathir Bin Mohamad had blasted India of “invading and occupying the country” of Jammu and Kashmir in his address to the UN.
India is the world’s largest importer of edible oils, of which palm oil accounts for nearly two-thirds of its total edible oil imports. India buys more than nine million tonnes of palm oil annually, mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia. India imported 3.9 million tonnes of Malaysian palm oil between January and September worth about USD 2 billion, this year. This is more than the double last year’s shipment from Kuala Lumpur. India has been Malaysia’s biggest palm oil buyer since 2014, replacing China. This year, Malaysian palm oil saw a significant rise in the Indian market share, up from 28.7 pc to 57.8 pc.
However, India now plans to substitute Malaysian palm oil with palm oil from Indonesia, soybean oil from Argentina and sunflower oil from Ukraine.
India’s top vegetable oil trade body – Mumbai-based Solvent Extractors’ Association of India – has asked its members to stop buying Malaysian palm oil. B V Mehta, executive director of SEA asserted, “There is uncertainty among traders and as a precaution, we have told them not to go for new contracts till there is clarity.”
He pointed out that India can purchase more from Indonesia, which produces 40 million tonnes of edible oil a year, compared with 19 million tonnes for Malaysia. Raveesh Kumar, external affairs spokesperson said that he was not aware of any government decision on retaliation. “In any case I think it is important to understand that the decision to import any commodity or otherwise is the prerogative of the importing company. But at the same time, they are not impervious to the state of affairs between any two countries.”
No doubt these are definite evidences that India is embarking on a new and aggressive path to secure its core and strategic interests.