India tightens brake on import of refined palm oil

NEW DELHI: India tightened import restrictions on Monday by putting more conditions in place for incoming shipments of the product.

On January 8, the General Directorate for Foreign Trade (DGTF), under the Ministry of Commerce, imposed restrictions on imports of refined palm oil, according to which an importer must apply for a license or permit or certificate of no objection for imports.

In a commercial notice, the DGFT said that the import of refined products will be allowed subject to certain conditions.

Under the new conditions, import authorization requests must be accompanied by a pre-purchase agreement and import details for the past three years.

The validity period of import licenses/authorizations for refined palm oil will be six months instead of the usual 18 months. The total non-use of the import authorization by the applicant will lead to the disqualification of the importer from obtaining more licenses for these items in the future, it said.

Customs will be required to diligently enforce the rules of origin criteria for the import of these items originating in Nepal and Bangladesh, he added.

The rules of origin certificate is a key document required for exports to those countries with which India has trade agreements. An exporter must present a 'certificate of origin' at the port of landing of the importing country (in the case of refined palm oil, it will be the Indian ports).

This certificate is essential to prove where the products come from.

India, the world's largest importer of vegetable oils, buys almost 15 million tons annually. Of this, palm oil comprises 9 million tons and the rest 6 million tons are soybean and sunflower oil. Indonesia and Malaysia are the two countries that supply palm oil.

Malaysia produces 19 million tons of palm oil in one year, while Indonesia produces 43 million tons.

India put the product from the free category to the restricted one in the context of certain Malaysian comments on the new citizenship law and the Kashmir issue.