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 Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani
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 India's soyoil imports seen rising on lower duty

NEW DELHI, Feb 28 (Reuters) - India's soybean oil imports are likely toincrease following the government's decision to raise import duties on allvegetable oils and leave soyoil duties unchanged in the 2001/02 budget,traders said on Wednesday."This will lead to an overall increase in imports of soybean oil," AtulChaturvedi, senior vice-president of Adani Exports Ltd told Reuters.Finance Minister Yashwant Sinh announced that import duty on crude edibleoils would be raised to a uniform rate of 75 percent from the currentrange of 35 to 55 percent.The duty on refined edible oil has been increased to 85 percent from arange of 45 percent to 65 percent.Vanaspati manufacturers in financial difficulties would be charged a dutyof 55 percent, up from 25 percent, on imports of crude palm oil, he said.Other vanaspati makers will pay a duty of 75 percent.Sinha said the duty on soybean oil remained unchanged at 45 percent onaccount of India's commitment to the World Trade Organisation (WTO)."I wish to assure the house that in order to safeguard the interests ofour farmers we shall move swiftly whenever any perceptible threat onaccount of imports is noticed," he said.OIL PRICESDealers said domestic vegetable oil prices were expected to rise but theincrease was likely to be less that the import duty hike."Prices will definitely go up in the local market but we also expectprices in exporting countries to come down," P.M. Chheda, president ofBombay Oilseeds And Oils Exchange Ltd, told Reuters.India, the world's leading buyer of vegetable oils, imported 1.23 milliontonnes of edible oils in the period from November 2000 to January 2001against 972,132 tonnes a year earlier.Imports of crude palm oil and RBD palm olein, mainly from Malaysia andIndonesia, have been recorded at 908,000 tonnes in the period fromNovember 2000 to January 2001 against 719,000 tonnes a year earlier.



Traders said the edible oil duty increase will provide a level playingfield to the vegetable oil industry because vanaspati manufacturers wouldhave to pay a 75 percent duty compared with 25 percent earlier."The withdrawal of benefits to vanaspati makers will be good for theindustry as they were enjoying a benefit at the cost of others," a leadingimporter said.The government's Economic Survey, a report card on the Indian economy,said oilseeds output in the year to June 2001 is likely to be sharplylower at 18.6 million tonnes, from 20.9 million tonnes the previous year.

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