Edible oil imports declined by 20 per cent in June in view of higher inventory in the country.

Import of edible oils in to the country stood at 0.96 million tonnes (mt) in June 2021 against 1.21 mt during May 2021, recording a decline of 20.08 per cent.

According to the data released by Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) of India, the import of palm oil (which includes crude palm oil and RBD palmolein) declined to 5.87 lakh tonnes (lt) in June against 7.69 lt in May — a drop of 23.66 per cent.

Import of soft oils (which includes soybean oils and sunflower oil) came down to 3.81 lt (4.43 lt), slipping by 13.88 per cent.

BV Mehta, Executive Director of SEA of India, attributed this decline in the import during June to the higher stocks in the domestic market during the period.

The stock of edible oil in the country stood at 1.98 mt as on July 1 against 1.96 mt on June 1.

Full year figures

However, Mehta said, there has been an overall growth in the import of edible oil during the first eight months of the oil year 2020-21 (November-June).

The country imported 5.14 mt of palm oil during November-June of 2020-21 compared with 4.23 mt in the corresponding period of 2019-20, registering a growth of 21.49 per cent.

The growth in the import of the palm oil during the period was due to the lower duty advantage in the country compared to soft oils, Mehta said.

Import of soft oils decreased to 3.3 mt during November-June 2020-21 against 3.84 mt in the year-ago period.

Palm oil producers such as Malaysia and Indonesia were the major suppliers of the commodity to India during the period. Malaysia was the major supplier of CPO (crude palm oil) at 2.61 mt followed by Indonesia at 2.20 mt during November 2020 -June 2021 period.

India imported 1.60 mt of crude soyabean degummed oil from Argentina; and 1.18 mt of crude sunflower oil from Ukraine, 1.33 lakh tonnes from Russia and 1.11 lakh tonnes from Argentina.

The overall import of vegetable oil (which includes both edible oil and non-edible oil) increased to 8.67 mt during the first eight months of the oil year 2020-21 as against 8.26 mt in the corresponding period of 2019-20, up by 5 per cent.

Refiners, farmers to be hit

However, SEA feels that the recent notifications by the Government will have an impact on import of palm products to India.

In a notification dated June 29, the Government reduced the import duty on CPO, RBD palmolein, RBD palm oil and others. With this, the effective CPO duty was reduced by 5.50 per cent while RBD palmolein duty by 8.25 per cent and RBD palm oil by 18.15 per cent up to September 30.

On June 30, the Government decided to allow RBD palmolein and palm oil freely till December 31.

Mehta said: “Both the notifications will have impact on import of palm products into India, detrimental to the interest of domestic refiners and oilseed growers. This will also open flood gates for import of refined oils from Nepal and Bangladesh under SAFTA agreement at nil duty, seriously hit refiners in the eastern and northern India.”

He said Indonesia and Malaysia have higher duty/levy on CPO compared to RBD palmolein. This may lead to increase in the export of refined palm oil into India in coming months at the cost of CPO, he said.

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