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India considers oil import tax

India is considering to tax vegetable oil imports to protect the domestic industry from a slump in prices and lift a ban on exports, the farm minister said Oct. 19.

Sharad Pawar also said the government would consider scrapping an export tax of 8,000 rupees (US$162.30) per tonne on basmati rice.

“Global edible oil prices have fallen and have created problems for producers here. We will soon decide on imposing duty on imports,” Pawar told reporters.

Inflation-weary India dropped a 20 per cent import tax on crude edible oils in April and cut the levy on refined oils to 7.5 per cent from 20.75 per cent to combat rising prices.

The government had also banned exports of non-basmati rice in April and slapped a tax on overseas sales of premium basmati rice to help check rising prices at home.

India, the world’s biggest vegetable oil importer after China, buys almost half its annual edible oil requirement of around 11 million tonnes.

The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA), an apex body of vegetable oil traders, has asked the government to impose a 30 per cent import duty on crude palm oil, 37.5 per cent on RBD palmolein and 20 per cent on crude soybean oil.

The SEA has also requested Farm, Trade and Finance ministries to allow vegetable oil exports, which were banned in March for a year barring tiny sales of groundnut oils.

Pawar said the government would consider reimposing import tax on vegetable oils, allow exports and scrap export tax on basmati rice after Diwali, or the festival of lights, Oct. 28.

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