Trade bodies and port users in Kerala have hit out against the Directorate-General of Foreign Trade (DGFT)‘s decision to extend the import ban on palm oil through ports in the State. The decision will hit the revenue of many minor ports in the State, they say.

Munshid Ali, Secretary of the Kerala Exporters’ Forum, said minor ports such as Kollam and Beypore are gearing up to receive more cargo after modernisation, and the DGFT’s move will hinder their development.

Road transportation of cargo unloaded at neighbouring Mangaluru and Thoothukudi ports is likely to increase the retail price of palm oil in the local market.

The exporters’ forum and other chambers of commerce have made several representations for lifting the ban on import through Kerala ports.

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The Forum urged the Kerala Government, and the State Agriculture and Industries Department to jointly appeal to the Centre to reconsider the decision. It has also requested MPs from Kerala to raise the issue in Parliament.

‘No tangible benefits’

Prakash Iyer, Chairman, Cochin Port Users’ Forum, said palm oil import through Cochin Port was banned in 2007 to arrest the falling price of coconut oil. However, after 15 years, neither the coconut farmers nor the government have got the desired results on account of the road transportation of palm oil to Kerala. This has not only hit traffic at Cochin and Beypore ports, but the business of exim trade and logistic partners.

Iyer also cited the instance of the ban on natural rubber imports through Cochin Port, while allowing the same through Thoothukudi, Chennai and New Mangalore ports, which increased costs for the industry, but did not reduce usage of the commodity.

The Cochin Port Users’ Forum has requested the Centre to have a re-look at the DGFT notification considering the trade interests of the port community. It has also suggested that the government find new ways to promote coconut oil consumption by highlighting its health benefits across markets, including exports.