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India palm imports climb in March on Malaysia duty suspension

India’s palm oil imports increased in March as a suspension of export duties by Malaysia and a drop in global prices boosted demand ahead of summer.

Imports advanced about 12% from a year earlier to 760,700 metric tons, the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India said in a statement on Monday. That compares with a median estimate of 805,000 tons in a Bloomberg survey. Total vegetable oil purchases, including sunflower oil and those for industrial use, rose about 2.8% to 1.15 million tons, the association said.

A jump in imports by the world’s largest palm oil buyer may underpin palm oil prices, which have fallen in four out of five months through March. India relies on imports to meet about 70% of its total vegetable oil requirements. The country buys palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia and soybean oil mainly from the U.S., Brazil and Argentina. Palm oil accounts for more than 60% of the south Asian country’s total cooking oil purchases.

The absence of export duties in Malaysia encouraged higher shipments to India, said B. V. Mehta, executive director of the association, said by phone from Mumbai. “A drop in prices was also supportive.” Malaysia extended the duty suspension earlier this month to April 30 to reduce stockpiles. The exemption was initially supposed to lapse on April 7.

Soybean oil imports nearly halved to 115,102 tons last month, while sunflower oil purchases climbed about 16% to 210,269 tons, the association said.
Source: The Edge Markets

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