Indian oilseed crushers have welcomed the Indian Commerce Ministry’s move to suspend permits for imports of refined palm oil as a move to protect local refiners.
On Monday, the ministry suspended 39 licences for imports of refined, bleached, and deodorised (RBD) palmolein, after a surge in purchases from Nepal and Bangladesh, countries which are not producers of the commodity.
The ministry’s Directorate-General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said it would investigate suspected violations of the rules of origin.
It said Nepal and Bangladesh were exporting refined palm oil to India at zero customs duty under the South Asian Free Trade Area pact.
The DGFT said refined palm oil consignments coming from Indonesia also have to follow the rules of origin criteria as per the India-ASEAN free trade agreement.
The Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA) thanked Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal “for this decision to protect domestic refiners.”
In January, the Indian government had included refined palm oil products under the “restricted” category, and later issued a number of licenses to importers.
India relies on Indonesia and Malaysia for its palm oil requirements, however, imports from Malaysia have dwindled in recent months.