'Entry Of Duty-free Refined Edible Oils From Neighbouring Countries Including Sri Lanka Affecting Indian Agriculture'

Indian media says entry of duty-free refined edible oils 4.71 % from neighbouring countries of Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka under South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement is hurting Indian oil seed farmers and refiners, with prices of oil seed dropping 4 per cent in the last 15 days. 

"Around 20,000 tonnes of edible oil have already entered India from Bangladesh and industry executives say the volume will increase if the government does not intervene,"  the Economic Times of India said. 

The government had increased import duty on crude palm oil (CPO) and refined palm oil to 48.4 per cent and 59.4 per cent respectively in March and that on soft oils to 38.5 per cent in June to help farmers and support domestic prices. But imports from neighbouring countries under SAFTA have thwarted that initiative, trade insiders say. “Cheap imports through member countries are undermining the entire initiative of supporting the farmers as they have distorted domestic prices,” said Angshu Mallick, chief operating officer at Adani Wilmar. “This will in turn hurt domestic crops and farmers,” he told ET. 

Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA) has taken up the matter with the government.

In a letter to finance secretary Hasmukh Adhia on July 5, SEA president Atul Chaturvedi said edible oils from SAFTA member countries are being sold at a discount to that imported directly from places such as Malaysia and Indonesia (palm oil), Argentina (soya oil) and Ukraine ( sunflower oil). He urged the government to address this issue by putting all edible oil products and vanaspati on the negative list of SAFTA treaty “as soon as possible”. (With Inputs from ET)

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