With Indonesia lifting restrictions on palm oil imports, Cochin Port Users Forum has requested the Director General of Foreign Trade to end the restrictions on palm oil imports through Cochin and other minor ports in Kerala.

Prakash Iyer, Chairman, Cochin Port Users Forum, said the resumption of palm oil imports would shore up the revenue of the port and help ease the shortage of containers. Palm oil is mainly imported through containers using flexitanks and they can be re-used for exports. The drop in imports has led to a shortage of empty containers, Iyer said.

Banned to protect coconut oil

Palm oil import through Cochin and other minor ports in Kerala was banned a few years ago to halt the slide in the price of coconut oil. This paved the way for imports through the neighbouring ports of Tuticorin and New Mangalore and the product was transported to Kerala by road. The DGFT decision, Iyer said, had resulted in loss of business and jobs at ports in Kerala.

Moreover, the ban did not have the desired effect, as the price of coconut oil and other value-added products continue to fall.  The Kerala Government should, instead, help coconut farmers get a remunerative price for their produce and make coconut oil competitive with other edible oils.

Palm oil imports through the port will help end its movement by road and reduce carbon emission and road accidents, he said.