India’s vegetable oil imports rose 26% to 14.46 lakh tonne during March because of a sharp increase in inward shipments of refined palm oil from Malaysia, industry body SEA stated on Monday.
Expressing concern over rising imports of refined palm oil, the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) has demanded that the duty difference between crude and refined oil should be increased to protect farmers as well as edible oil processors.
According to the data released by the association, edible oil imports rose to 13,93,255 tonne in March 2019 from 11,22,685 tonne in the year-ago period. Imports of non-edible oil jumped more than twofold to 53,302 tonne from 23,366 tonne.
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“The ministry of finance, with effect from January 1, 2019, reduced import duty on palm oil and also reduced the duty difference between crude and palm oil from 10% to 5% on palmolein to be imported from Malaysia. As anticipated, worst fears have come true and India is flooded with RBD (refined, bleached and deodorised) Palmolein from Malaysia. Cut in duty difference between CPO (crude palm oil) and palmolein sourced from Malaysia has resulted in RBD Palmolein imports going up from 1,30,000 tonne in December 2018 to over 3,00,000 tonne in March 2019,” SEA said.
This development had also the potential of sounding the death knell of palm refining industry in India, SEA stated. “This also has seriously hit the prices of mustard seed and being currently quoted `700-800 per quintal below of minimum support price of `4,200/quintal,” the association said.
There is an urgent need to create duty difference of 10% between CPO and RBD Palmolein as was prevailing before January 1, 2019, to survive in this situation, it added.
“The overall import of vegetable oils during November 2018 to March 2019 is reported at 63,09,406 tonne as compared to 59,31,829 tonne in the previous year,” SEA said.