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Mumbai, Nov. 15

IMPORTS of edible oils into the country during the oil season 2004-05 (November/October) have increased by 15 per cent to 50.42 lakh tonnes compared to 43.96 lakh tonnes imported last season.

The 10 per cent duty differential between crude and refined oils has encouraged larger import of non-refined oils over refined oils.

The country has imported about 30 lakh tonnes of palm products and 20.4 lakh tonnes of soft oils, mainly soyabean oil, 2.0 lakh tonnes of vanaspati and 4.0 lakh tonnes of non-edible oil during the period.

Refined oil imports were 4.48 lakh tonnes, while crude oil imports were at 45.94 lakh tonnes. Refined oils share decreased to 9 per cent from 18 per cent while crude oils increased to 91 per cent from 82 per cent for same period of last year, thanks to duty difference leading to value addition within the country.

This has lent support to the domestic vegetable oil processing industry through improved availability of raw materials and increased capacity utilisation, according to Mr B.V. Mehta, Executive Director, Solvent Extractors' Association of India.

Palm oil is mainly imported from Indonesia/Malaysia, while degummed soybean oil is mainly from Argentina and Brazil.

Imports of soyabean oil increased to 20 lakh tonnes from 8.9 lakh tonnes in the same period last season. Entire incremental import has gone to soybean oil while palm oil in terms of quantity was reduced to 30 lakh tonnes from 34 lakh tonnes.

Share of palm oil reduced from 78 per cent to 60 per cent while share of soft oil went up from 22 per cent to 40 per cent in 2004-05.

Import of Vanaspati increased during the period due to lower duty (30 per cent) and also under the Free Trade Agreement (FTA), signed by India with Nepal and Sri Lanka. Import of Vanaspati is allowed at zero per cent duty.

Also, imports of PFAD & CPS touched around 400,000 tonnes during 2004-05 due to increased use in soap and oleochemicals.

Total import of non-edible oil during the period was reported at 4,09,482 tonnes compared to 2,35,163 tonnes during the same period of last season, up by 74 per cent.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 16, 2005)
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