Rice export ban stays, no edible oil duty hike

Written by Commodities Bureau | New Delhi, Nov 4 | Updated: Nov 6 2008, 05:10am hrs
The government is likely to continue with the existing ban on non-basmati rice exports. It is also unlikely to hike the import duty on edible oil. After a meeting of empowered group of ministers (eGoM), commerce minister Kamal Nath told reporters on Tuesday that there was no decision on abolishing export duties on basmati rice. At present, exporters pay a cess of Rs 8,000 per tonne of basmati shipped from the country. Sources said the decision on edible oils was deferred as there was no unanimity among the ministers. However they added the government has taken a positive view on exports of edible oil in small packs.

The eGoM was called to discuss the food grain scenario in the country and also review the various export ban taken to tame the rising inflation few months back.

Interestingly, earlier in the day agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and commerce minister Kamal Nath had said the government would seriously consider lifting the rice export ban and re-imposing the import duties on edible oils

In April, the government banned exports of non-basmati rice to curb rising inflation and ensuring sufficient supply of rice in the domestic market. It also reduced import duties on edible crude oils to 7.5% from over 20% for controlling rising prices of the commodity.

However, since then international prices of rice and edible have crushed. The eGoM which held its meeting on Tuesday could not arrive at a decision. It was anticipated that plummeting international rice prices and comfortable stocks at home, might force the government to lift exports ban imposed on non-basmati rice.

The benchmark Thailand rice has dropped to below $600 per tonne from earlier high of $1000 per tonne in the international market. The prices are expecting to plummet further by the end of the year to $500-550 per tonne.

Similarly the benchmark crude palm oil prices in Malaysia is ruling at below 2,000 ringgits per tonne from a high of over 3,500 ringgits in May. The country imports around 5.5 million tonne of edible oil requirements mainly from Indonesia (palm oil) and Argentina (soybean oil).

Along with decline the price, India is expecting a bumper crop of 94 million tonne of non-basmati rice is expected in November, of which six million tonne would be surplus.