India. Edible oil refiners seek duty cut on crude palm oil imports


Indian refiners of edible oil have sought a cut in the import duty on crude palm oil, which they said will offer the local industry a level playing field at a time when imports of refined products are growing at a quick pace.

Their lobby group, the Solvent Extractors' Association of India, has written to the Prime Minister, requesting to cut the duty on their key raw material to 5% from the current 12.5%. It has also sought retaining the current 20% duty on refined palm oil imports.

Palm oil exporting countries levy a 12% duty on crude shipments and 5% on refined oil to protect their domestic industry. When the local import duty is added to this, say Indian refiners, the cost becomes heavy for them.

"It (cutting duty on crude imports) will not affect the government's agenda of checking inflation as the prices of edible oil will not be impacted," said BV Mehta, the association's executive-director.

Currently, edible oil prices are at last year's levels, Mehta said. He sees the prices following a usual patterns, with a marginal increase likely towards the upcoming festival season.

The local industry is worried about increasing imports of refined palm oil in India. The share of imported refined oil has now reached 32% of the total import of palm oil, Mehta said, calling it the "highest percentage" in recent years. This trend is expected to gain momentum due to forthcoming festival season, Mehta said.



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