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Cap sought on vanaspati imports from Lanka

Our Bureau

Centre urged to cut duty on palm oil to 40%


Industry wants imports capped at 2 lakh tonnes.

Mumbai , Sept. 19

The vanaspati industry is extremely upset over the Finance Ministry's notification dated September 6 that suggests concessional duty of 70 per cent on imported crude palm oil would be valid till October 31 which in turn implies that the duty may be raised to 100 per cent from November 1.

Threat

Calling the announcement a serious threat to the survival of the industry (in which close to 50 per cent of the units are already closed), industry representatives have demanded that customs duty on crude palm oil, which is the principal raw material for manufacture of vanaspati, should be brought down to a maximum of 40 per cent under a tariff rate quota (TRQ) of 11.5 lakh tonnes per annum for the vanaspti industry.

INDUSTRY DEMAND

The quantity has been arrived at on the basis of capacities for hydrogenated oil and bakery shortening registered with the Directorate of Vanaspati, Vegoils and Fats. The industry bodies have also demanded that duty-free imports of vanaspati from Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan should not exceed two lakh tonnes a year and be canalised through a single Government agency to ensure that the imported product is not sold below the cost price of indigenous vanaspati.

Meanwhile, the Solvent Extractors' Association of India, in a representation to the Prime Minister and the Commerce Minister, has cautioned the Government against agreeing to large scale (2,50,000 tonnes) import of vanaspati from Sri Lanka under the free trade agreement route.

A delegation of Indian officials including the Commerce Secretary and the Director General of Foreign Trade were in Colombo earlier this week.

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