By Riyaz ul Khaliq
ANKARA (AA) - Malaysia has intensified efforts to explore new markets, including African continent, for one of its main exports, palm oil, after India unofficially reduced its imports over former’s Kashmir statement.
Country’s primary industries ministry said on Friday that since some countries in Africa -- home to 1.2 billion people -- are witnessing rapid economic growth, it is feasible for Malaysia to look for buyers of its palm oil.
"Malaysian palm oil has a vast potential in these African countries, which are supported by strong economic growth that could directly boost demand for cooking oil," Minister Teresa Kok told country's Bernama news agency .
The statement came after Solvent Extractors’ Association of India asked its 875 members to stop buying Malaysian palm oil due to Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s firm stance over the Kashmir issue.
Mahathir said New Delhi had "invaded and occupied" Jammu and Kashmir during his address in New York City at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly on Sept. 27, and refused to budge from his statement calling the UN to intervene and solve the dispute.
Minister Kok said that palm oil is one of the most affordable cooking oils compared to soybean, sunflower and olive oil.
Ethiopia is one of the potential buyers of the palm oil as the country -- home to 100 million -- has recorded a "stunning economic growth rate of 9-11%," she said.
After the India hit, Malaysia will most likely lose a lot in foreign exchange as India is the world’s biggest importer of palm oil.
She added that Japan and South Korea also expressed interest in importing Malaysian palm oil. Europe is Malaysia's second largest market for the same oil.
In 2018, Malaysia exported 6.84 billion ringgit ($1.65 billion) worth of palm oil to India, Kok said in a statement on Oct. 15.
In the same year, Ethiopia has imported 149,435 tons of Malaysian palm oil and palm oil-based products, said Malaysia's official news agency.