India cuts tax on palm oil imports, in environmental blow

The world’s largest importer of crude palm oil has cut the tax on imports of the product in an effort to rein in food inflation, to help domestic refiners and consumers.
The reduction in the tax, which came into effect on Sunday, is known as the Agriculture Infrastructure and Development Cess (AIDC) act. Basically it widens the gap between the CPO and refined palm oil import duties, effectively making it cheaper for Indian refiners to import CPO according to industry officials.
B.V. Mehta, Executive Director of Mumbai-based Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA) said: “After the reduction in AIDC, the import tax difference between CPO and refined palm oil would widen to 8.25 percent.
“This will help Indian refiners, but government needs to increase the difference further to 11 percent to encourage local refining.”
In a separate notification, the government also said it would extend a reduction in a separate, basic customs duty on edible oils until September 30. The tax reduction had been due to expire on March 31.
India imports more than two-thirds of its edible oil needs and has been struggling to contain a rally in local oil prices over the last few months.
Oil imports and inflation
India imports palm oil mainly from Indonesia and Malaysia, while other oils, such as soy and sunflower, come from Argentina, Brazil, Ukraine and Russia.
Sandeep Bajoria, Chief Executive of Sunvin Group, a vegetable oil brokerage and consultancy firm said: “Refined palm oil imports accounted for nearly half of India’s total palm oil imports in the past few months.
“The share of refined palm oil could come down to 20 percent with the revision in the tax structure.
Indian refiners have been asking New Delhi to change the import duty structure as the overseas buying of refined palm oil was cheaper than CPO due to higher taxes imposed by producing countries on exports of CPO.
Mindful of an electorate that is highly sensitive to food price inflation, India’s government in the past few months tried to rein in domestic prices by reducing import taxes, imposing stockpile limits and suspending futures trading in edible oils and oilseeds.
The news that India is reducing the tax on palm oil imports will be reduced will come as good news for local consumers, but will not be received well by environmentalists who oppose deforestation in oil producing companies.

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Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]