Angered by Kashmir criticism, India to cut imports from Turkey

India is planning to cut some imports from Turkey and widen curbs on palm oil from Malaysia as a response to two countries’ criticism against India’s Kashmir policy, Reuters reported, citing two Indian government officials. 

The Indian government is planning to cut imports of oil and steel products from Turkey, one of the officials told Reuters on Wednesday. 

"Our government has not taken kindly the comments of Malaysia and Turkey and we will restrict trade from both the countries," the official said. 

The Indian Commerce Ministry did not reply to an email seeking comment, Reuters said. 

The Indian government withdrew the autonomy of Kashmir last year in August, shut down internet access in the region and detained activists and politicians.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said 8 million people were virtually under blockade in the region during his speech at United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting in New York in September. 

“In order for the Kashmiri people to look at a safe future together with their Pakistani and Indian neighbours, it is imperative to solve the problem through dialogue and on the basis of justice and equity, but not through collision,” Erdoğan said. 

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi suspended his official visit to Turkey after Erdoğan’s speech, while the Pakistani government shared the Turkish president’s comments on its official Twitter account. 

The defence relations between Turkey and Pakistan has been bourgeoning in the last couple of years.  

Two Pakistani naval ships this year participated in a multinational exercise in south Turkey, while in October the Pakistan Navy commissioned a 17,000-ton fleet tanker that it has built in collaboration with a Turkish defence contractor. Islamabad has also agreed to buy 30 Turkish-built combat helicopters in a deal struck in 2018. Ankara, on the other hand, is buying MFI-17 Super Mushshak aircraft from Pakistan.

Islamabad also seems a potential partner for Erdoğan’s possible attempts to acquire nuclear capability, which he hinted also in his UNGA speech by saying the position of nuclear power should either be forbidden for all or permissible for everyone. 

Turkey is also against the blacklisting of Pakistan by the world financial watchdog, the Financial Action Task Force, to curb its alleged financing of terror, something India has been lobbying for hard, Reuters said. 

The volume of trade between Turkey and India exceeded $8 billion in 2018, but the bilateral trade relations are strikingly unbalanced with Indian exports to Turkey at $7.5 billion the same year.

The two countries were planning to reach a $10 billion trade volume in 2019, but Reuters said Indian trade data indicated that overall imports from both Malaysia and Turkey had already taken a hit last year.