India's May palm oil imports jump 65%, soyoil imports plunge


Malaysian palm oil futures fell more than 1 percent on Friday, retreating from the previous session's seven-month high, hindered by a stronger ringgit and losses in U.S. soyoil on the Chicago Board of Trade.

MUMBAI: India's palm oil imports jumped 65% in May from a year earlier as oversees purchases of refined palm more than doubled due to lower import duty and a drop in prices, a leading trade body said on Friday.

Palm oil imports totalled 818,149 tonnes last month, including 371,060 tonnes of refined palm oil, the Solvent Extractors' Association (SEA) said in a statement https://bit.ly/2WJKQVY.

India, the world's biggest importer of edible oils, had imported 157,832 tonnes of refined palm oil in the year-ago period.

India's decision to cut duty on refined palm oil imports from Malaysia, halved the spread between refined and palm oil duty structures to 5%, making it lucrative for importers to buy refined products from the Southeast Asian country, the SEA said.

In January, India cut duty on refined palm oil sourced from Malaysia to 45% from 54% as part of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) signed by the two countries nearly a decade ago.

Indian edible oil refiners have asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to raise duty on refined palm oil imports from Malaysia to protect the local industry following a surge in inbound shipments from the South-east Asian country, a trade body said on Friday.

India is the world's biggest importer of edible oils. Its refined palm oil imports in May jumped to 371,060 tonnes from 238,479 tonnes in April, the Solvent Extractors' Association (SEA) said in a letter to Modi.

In January, India cut duty on refined palm oil sourced from Malaysia to 45% from 54% as part of a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) signed by the two countries nearly a decade ago.

"We strongly appeal to the government to kindly scrap the CECA agreement with Malaysia with immediate effect and impose higher duty on RBD palmolein to save domestic refiners and oilseed farmers," the SEA said.

India primarily imports palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia and soyoil from Argentina and Brazil. It also buys small volumes of sunflower oil from Ukraine and canola oil from Canada.

The country's soyoil imports fell 42% in May from a year ago to 232,003 tonnes, while sunflower oil imports plunged 61% to 130,634 tonnes, the SEA said.

"Palm oil is very competitive right now. That's why refiners are reducing buying of sunflower oil and soyoil," said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm. - Reuters
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