Vegetable oil imports to cross 10-million tonne mark

The total import of vegetable oils, both edible and non-edible, by India would cross the record 10 million tonne mark in the present oil year (November 2011 to October 2012) under the current circumstances, making it the second-largest imported commodity after crude oil costing `55,000 crore to the exchequer per year, said Solvent Extractors’ Association of India executive director B V Mehta.

“Till September, the total import of vegetable oil stands at 9.15 million tonnes. This includes 8.96 million tonnes of edible oil. Given the number of vessels lined up for import and the low prices of palm oil, there would be an import of another 9 lakh tonnes of oil in the last month of this oil year,” he said.  India imported 9.2 million tonnes of vegetable oil in 2009-10, which is the highest till now. During 2011 period, the figure was 8.37 million tonnes.

Mehta said, on an average, the total consumption of vegetable oil increases in India by nearly five per cent every year. “Considering the increase in population of 20 million every year, the per capita consumption of oil in the next year will be around 13. 5 kg, thereby requiring an additional quantity of 8 lakh tonnes,” he said.

The total vegetable oil requirement for India per year has been around 16.5 million tonne this year and the figure would be 17.4 million tonne in the next year. Of this, crude palm oil constitutes around 80 per cent.

Regarding the Malaysian Government’s latest decision to adopt a flexible Crude Palm Oil (CPO) tax structure, similar to the export duty for CPO in Indonesia, with effect from January 1 next year, he said the proposed tax regime would enable India to import palm oil from Malaysia at a much cheaper price.

The new CPO export duty would be slashed to between 4.5 per cent and 8.5 per cent with effect from January next year from 23 per cent at present. Mehta demanded that the Indian Government should declare oil palm as a plantation crop instead of promoting oil palm cultivation in India. At present, India has only 70,000 tonnes of palm oil production. The Indian Government should expedite measures to import seedlings from Malaysia, he said.

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