Edible oil trade wants higher import duty

PUNE: As India’s edible oil imports surge during the past six months, depressing prices of domestically produced mustard, soyabean and other soft oils and in turn cutting returns of farmers and processors, the industry has demanded substantial increase in import duty to curtail imports.

The duty on two major edible oils, namely crude sunflower seed oil and crude canola/rapeseed/mustard is only 25 per cent, while crude soyabean oil attracts 30 per cent duty.

Davish Jain, president, Soyabean Processors Association (SOPA) said: “The 5 per cent duty advantage on these two premium edible oils is totally unjustified as these are consumed by the affluent class who can bear the additional cost and do not compete with the major indigenously produced soyabean oil. It is requested that duty on these two oils should be levied at a rate higher than on soyabean oil.”

Jain said that the price of sunflower and mustard oils has now become at par with or even lower than the soyabean oil, affecting sale of the latter and thus impacting the margins of the soyabean processors. SOPA has demanded that the duty on soyabean oil should be raised to the same level as palm oil; making it 44 per cent for crude and 54 per cent for refined soyabean oil.

Sunflower oil is mainly coming from Ukraine while canola oil, used for mixing with mustard oil is coming from the EU. The edible oil industry representatives claimed that due to skewed duty structure, for the first time, India has become importer of cottonseed oil. Customs duty on refined cottonseed oil is only 20 per cent while it is 35 per cent on refined soybean oil and 40 per cent on refined palm oil.