India's import of vegetable oils in February rose 7.4% to 12.42 lakh tonnes on sharp rise in shipments of refined palm oil, according to latest data from the Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA).
"Import of vegetable oils during February 2019 is reported at 1,242,533 tonnes compared to 1,157,044 tons in February 2018," SEA said in a statement.
While import of edible oil increased to 11,82,062 tonnes in February 2019 from 11,24,999 tonnes in the year-ago period, the inward shipments of non-edible oil nearly doubled to 60,471 tonnes from 32,045 tonnes.
During November-February period of 2018-19 oil year, the overall import of vegetable oils went up by 1.61% to 48,62,849 tonnes compared to 47,85,778 tonnes in the corresponding period of the previous year.
"Ministry of Finance with effect from January 1, 2019, reduced import duty on palm oil and also reduced the duty difference between crude and palm oil from 10% to 5% on palmolein to be imported from Malaysia".
This has resulted into sharp increase in import of RBD Palmolein which nearly doubled to 2,41,101 tonnes in February 2019 from 1,30,459 tons in December 2018, up by 85% at the cost of reduced import of CPO (crude palm oil), SEA said.
The association said the imports could rise further in coming months considering the shipments that are lined up from Malaysia for export of RBD Palmolein to India.
"This development has the potential of sounding the death knell of palm refining industry in our country, if this aberration is not corrected," SEA cautioned.
During November'18-February'19, the import of refined oil (RBD Palmolein) increased to 6,47,900 tons from 6,07,359 tons in same period of last year. However, import of crude palm oil decreased to 39,63,912 tonnes from 40,48,091 tonnes during the same period of last year.