International Agriculture News

India squeezes edible oil import from Bangladesh after robust Q1

Export of soya bean oil and palm oil from Bangladesh to India has remained almost stalled since September last year, after bullish three months, as India has tightened the duty-free import of the products from Bangladesh.

Exporters said that Bangladesh was supposed to get duty-free benefits for export of edible oil to India under the South Asia Free Trade Agreement.

Because of a rise in demand for edible oil in India, import of soya bean and palm oil by Indian traders from Bangladesh stood at $83.80 million in July-September of the current fiscal year (2018-2019).

But, in the October-December quarter Indian traders imported edible oil worth only $3.84 million, taking the total import to $87.64 million in July-December, as authorities there tightened import of the products from Bangladesh to ‘protect the local millers’, said exporters.

Total export of edible oil from Bangladesh to India was around $13 million in last fiscal year (2017-2018).

Exporters said that India had told the Bangladesh authorities that to get duty-free export facility, Bangladeshi millers, who refine the oils after importing crude oils, must add 30 per cent value to the products.

A senior official of a private refinery company on Sunday told New Age that they added more than 30 per cent value to the imported crude oil.

‘Despite having more than 30 per cent value addition the Indian authorities have stopped duty-free import saying that they would visit Bangladeshi refineries,’ he said.

‘Indian authorities have already visited our refineries in September but they are yet to resume import of edible oil from Bangladesh,’ he said.

He also said that the Indian government had stopped duty-free import of edible oil from Bangladesh due to anti-import lobby by Indian oil refiners.

Export Promotion Bureau data showed that the export of soya bean oil to India was $48.53 million in July-September of FY19 and the export of the item was only $0.3 million in October-December of FY19.

Export of palm oil to India in the first quarter of FY19 was $35.27 million but the export was only $3.55 million in the second quarter of FY19.

According to sector people, the government allowed five companies — Meghna Group, City Group, TK Group, Basundhara Group and Sena Kalyan Sangstha — to export edible oil to India.

They said that India wanted duty-free export facility of sugar to Bangladesh; whereas Bangladesh’s duty-free edible oil export to India remained stalled.