Edible oil refiners in India have urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to raise duty on refined palm oil imports from Malaysia to protect the local industry following a surge in inbound shipments from the South-East Asian country, a trade body said on Friday.
India is the world’s biggest importer of edible oils. Its refined palm oil imports in May jumped to 371,060 tonne from 238,479 tonnes in April, the Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) said in a letter to Modi. In January, India cut duty on refined palm oil sourced from Malaysia to 45% from 54% as part of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) signed by the two countries nearly a decade ago. “We strongly appeal to the government to kindly scrap the CECA agreement with Malaysia with immediate effect and impose higher duty on RBD Palmolein to save domestic refiners and oilseed farmers,” BV Mehta, executive director, SEA said.
As a consequence of India-Malaysia agreement signed during in 2011, countries are witnessing a sharp increase in imports of refined palmolien, seriously impacting not only domestic palm refining industry but also domestic oilseed farmers, he said.
Total palm oil imports stood at 8,18,149 tonne during May this year, while soft oils were at 3,62,637 tonne in the same period, it said. Total vegetable oils (both palm and soft oils) imports in May this year declined to 12,21,989 tonne from 12,86,240 tonne in the same month previous year, the SEA data showed.
India imports palm oil mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia, and a small quantity of crude soft oil, including soyabean oil from Latin America. Sunflower oil is imported from Ukraine and Russia.