[Back]   [Comments]  [Print]


Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani




Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani





NEW DELHI, Nov 10 (Reuters) - India plans to propose to the World TradeOrganisation (WTO) that the world trade body rationalise its import tariffceiling on vegetable oils, farm minister Ajit Singh said on Sunday.WTO regulations permit India, the world's largest byer of vegetableoils, to levy customs duty up to 300 percent on all vegetable oils,barring soybean oil where the limit is 45 percent.India buys palm oils mostly from Malaysia and Indonesia and soy oilfrom Argentina, Brazil and the United States.The country imports nearly half its annual requirement of edible oilsof around 10 million tonnes. It imposes a basic import duty of 85 percenton refined oils, 65 percent on crude palm oil and 45 percent on soybeanoil."Except soybean oil, the bound rate on vegetable oils has been at ahigh level of 300 percent," Singh told an oilseeds convention."Why can't we increase soybean oil (bound rates) a little bit andreduce bound rates from 300 percent on other oils."Bound rate is the ceiling beyond which WTO members cannot impose importduty on a particular commodity.Singh said there was no reason for this discrepancy and thegovernmentwould put its views to the WTO during the next round of talks onagriculture.He said India would not, in any event, use this high bound rate of 300percent on edible oils and it could be cut."There is a lot of give and take at the WTO. We have to give our viewsto it on various issues by November 18," Singh said.Singh said the industry and the consumer were comfortable with presentlevels of customs duties on various oils."The import duties should be at reasonable levels, but not from thepoint of view of Malaysia and Argentina, but from the level of our farmersand industry," he said.India's soy oil imports between November 2001 and October 2002 totalled1.36 million tonnes, nearly 34 percent of total imports of edible oil ofabout four million tonnes during the period. The proportion of soyoil intotal imports of edible oils was 28 percent during the correspondingyear-ago period.Malaysia, the world's largest palm oil exporter, believes Indianbuyers have been switching to soy oil imports because of lower duties, atthe expense of palm oil.Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said during a visit to NewDelhi in October his country was justified in asking for the cut in importduties on palm oils since soybean oil was being imported into India at amuch lower duty.