India Said to Consider 5% Tax on Crude Palm Oil to Curb Imports

India, the world’s second-biggest cooking oil consumer, will consider imposing a 5 percent duty on imports of crude palm oil to shield domestic oilseed growers from cheap supplies, two government officials said.

The cabinet may also discuss raising the tariff on refined cooking oils to 10 percent from 7.5 percent tomorrow, said the officials, who declined to be identified as the plan is confidential. The government plans to review the tax on crude and refined palm oils, a food ministry official, who declined to be identified citing government policy, told reporters yesterday. Food Secretary Sudhir Kumar was not available to comment on the changes when called on his office number today.

India’s cooking oil imports surged 35 percent in December to 901,092 metric tons after palm oil futures in Malaysia, the global benchmark, slumped to a three-year low because of record stockpiles. Malaysia will export palm oil at zero duty for a second month in February to boost shipments and clear inventories, Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Bernard Dompok said Jan. 14.

The government should impose 10 percent import duty on crude palm oil and 20 percent on refined palm oil to protect oilseed farmers, the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India, representing 875 processors and refiners, said on Dec. 20.

Palm oil represents almost 80 percent of India’s cooking-oil imports. It buys palm from Indonesia and Malaysia, and soybean oil from Brazil and Argentina.

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