India’s palm oil imports down in April on higher duties: Bloomberg survey

Palm oil imports by India dropped by about 1.7 per cent to 740,000 tonnes in April as higher taxes on shipments curbed demand in the world’s biggest buyer, according to a survey by Bloomberg.

Total vegetable oil imports decreased 9.7 per cent to 1.21 million tonnes, the survey showed. The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India is expected to release its monthly trade numbers this week.

Lower imports by India may drag down Palm Oil prices, which have fallen in five out of six months through April. Benchmark futures in Malaysia have lost 4.9 per cent so far this year on expectations of higher production and after India increased import taxes on the vegetable oil in March. Traders expect imports may fall further to 675,000 tonnes in May as higher duties are dampening demand.

It may be recalled that aimed at safeguarding the interests of the domestic edible oil crushing industry and oilseed farmers in India, the Ministry of Finance had increased the import duty on refined and crude palm oil in March this year to the highest levels in recent years. The government had hiked the import duty on Crude Palm Oil (CPO) to 44 per cent from 30 per cent and on Refined Bleached Deodorized (RBD) palmolein to 54 per cent from 40 per cent with effect from March 1, 2018.

India’s dependence on imported edible oils was reaching alarming levels of almost 70 per cent of consumption.

India’s Soybean oil purchases fell about 42 per cent to 177,500 tonnes in April, the survey showed. India buys Soybean oil mainly from the U.S., Brazil and Argentina. Sunflower oil imports rose about 7 per cent to 251,500 tonnes.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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