Expressing concern over Malaysian palm oil flooding Indian markets, edible oil trade body Solvent Extractors Association (SEA) on Friday asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to hike import duty on palm oil being purchased from the South-east Asian country, to safeguard domestic oilseed farmers.
In January, India had reduced import duty on refined palm oil sourced from Malaysia to 45 per cent from 54 per cent as part of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) signed by the two countries in fiscal year 2010-11.
India is the world’s leading vegetable oil buyer and the share of palm oil is more than 60 per cent of the overall imports.
In a representation made to the Prime Minister, Mumbai-based SEA of India said there has been a “sharp increase” in imports of refined palm oil as a consequence of the India-Malaysia CECA pact.
“We strongly appeal to the government to kindly scrap the CECA agreement with Malaysia with immediate effect and impose higher duty on (RBD) palmolein (refined palm oil) to save domestic refiners and oilseed farmers,” it said.
According to SEA, the refined, bleached and de-odorised (RBD) palmolein imports have gone up from 1,30,000 tonne in December 2018 to 3,71,060 tonne in May 2019, highest in any single month since May 2013.
Total palm oil imports stood at 8,18,149 tonnes during May this year, while soft oils were at 3,62,637 tonnes in the same period, it said.
Total vegetable oils (both palm and soft oils) imports in May this year declined to 12,21,989 tonnes from 12,86,240 tonnes in the same month previous year, the SEA data showed.
India imports palm oil mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia, and a small quantity of crude soft oil, including soyabean oil from Latin America. Sunflower oil is imported from Ukraine and Russia.