India’s trade group slams refined palm oil import licences

India’s vegetable oil importers say with a massive mustard crop ready for harvesting, refined palm oil imports will depress domestic oilseed prices and the government may be left with huge stockpiles.

NEW DELHI: An Indian trade group representing vegetable oil importers today slammed the government for issuing licences to import refined palm oil, saying this was not in line with the “stated objective” of last month’s order restricting Refined, Bleached & Deodorised (RBD) palm olein imports.

Referring to media reports that the Ministry of Commerce’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has issued permits to import 1.1 million tonnes of RBD palm olein, the Mumbai-based Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) of India asked for a review of “the rationale for issuing such licences which are at variance with our country’s stated objective” of supporting local refining.

“We are dismayed at this action which has the potential of destroying palm refining industry in the country,” SEA said in a statement.

It said with a massive mustard crop ready for harvesting, refined palm oil imports will depress domestic oilseed prices and the government may be left with huge stockpiles.

India relies on imports for 70% of its edible oil requirements. Palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia constitutes two-thirds of its annual imports of 15 million tonnes.

The new import licences are reportedly for RBD palm olein from Indonesia.

India imported 594,804 tonnes of palm oil in January, almost 20% less than December’s volumes.