Edible oil industry has expressed the fear that last week’s decision by the Centre to restrict refined palm oil imports may turn out to be a futile exercise as importers may rush to get licences for palm oil imports.
The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) has sought quantitative restrictions on new import licences.
The Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) on January 8 amended the policy item under Exim Code 1511 90 to regulate the import of refined palm oil. It placed RBD Palm Oil and RBD Palmolein under the “restricted list.” As per the change in policy, the imports of refined palm oil will now be have to be subjected to licence to be issued by DGFT.
There being no restrictions on the issuance of new licences for import of refined palm oil, the trade fears that refined palm oil will be dumped in India.
“We fear this (issuance of new import licenses) has the potential of opening the floodgates of Refined Palm oil and Palmolein into India if a proper check is not put on the same. The whole purpose of transferring these imports to Restricted category would be defeated,” Atul Chaturvedi, President, SEA, said in a letter to Union Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal. SEA recommended restrict licences for import of RBD Palmolein and palm oil to 50,000 tonnes per month, and licences be issued proportionately in different zones to avoid dumping in one area.
The latest data compiled by SEA on vegetable oil imports indicated that the overall import of vegetable oils during November to December 2019 period is at 2,255,501 tonnes as against 2,345,07 tonnes, down 4 per cent, from the previous year.
During the period under review, import of refined oils fell to 217,225 tonnes from 239,370 tonnes in same period of last year. However, Import of crude oils increased marginally and reported at 1,986,579 tonnes as compared to 1,979,777 tonnes during the same period of last year.