India extends policy to import refined palm oil at lower duty

Workers prepare oil palm seedlings at a nursery in Khammam district

By Rajendra Jadhav

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India extended a policy to import refined palm oil at a lower duty and allowed imports of 51,000 tonnes of cotton at nil duty in 2023, the government said in a notification late on Thursday.

The concessional duty structure for the refined palm oil had been due to expire on December 31. It has been extended "until further orders," the government said.

In December 2021, India cut basic import tax on refined palm oil and brought down the total taxes on their imports to 13.75% from 19.25% earlier.

The duty cut made refined palm oil imports lucrative for Indian refiners, which traditionally prefer to import crude palm oil.

"Refined palm oil imports jumped this year because of lower duty. Even in the coming months, we will continue to see imports of around 200,000 tonnes of refined palm oil per month," said Sandeep Bajoria, chief executive of Sunvin Group, a vegetable oil brokerage and consultancy firm.

India imports more than two-thirds of its edible oil needs and has been struggling to contain a rally in local oil prices over the last few months.

The country imports palm oil mainly from top producers Indonesia and Malaysia, while other oils, such as soy and sunflower, come from Argentina, Brazil, Ukraine and Russia.

India also raised duty free imports quota of extra-long staple cotton to 51,000 tonnes for next year from 419 tonnes for 2022.

The south Asian country also allowed imports of 150,000 tonnes of lentils and 34,000 tonnes of almonds at 50% of applied duty under the tariff-rate quota (TRQ), the government said.

(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)