SOPA demands hike in import duty of all edible oils

New Delhi, Feb 7 (PTI) The Soyabean Processors Association of India (SOPA) on Tuesday demanded that the government should hike import duty on all edible oils as international prices are expected to remain low in view of record global soyabean output.

At present, domestic edible prices have been continuously falling and are at a very low level, SOPA chairman Davish Jain said in a representation made to Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal.

According to SOPA, the government should “increase duty on import of all edible oils. The quantum of increase may be decided, striking a balance between the interest of consumers and farmers.” That apart, it should abolish duty-free tariff rate quota for import of sunflower oil for 2023-24, and fix rate of RoDTEP (remission of duties and taxes on exported products) on soybean meal based on factual data and also give transport assistance to offset the very high freight in India, it said.

SOPA also suggested the government to enter into an arrangement with neighbouring countries for export of soybean meal through local currency.

There is scope for bringing these changes, the industry body said and explained that the domestic mustard crop harvest will start soon and an all-time high bumper crop of over 12 million tonne is expected this year. Also, global soybean production is going to be record this year.

“In view of this, the international edible oil prices are likely to remain within the current low range, which is very comfortable for the consumers,” it said.

To become self-reliant in edible oils, it is imperative to keep the momentum gained in the domestic production of soyabean and mustard. The surge in domestic production would also lead to a higher export of soybean meal, helping to reduce the stressed current account deficit.

There is a big market for Indian soybean meal because of its USP of being non-GM. Neighbouring countries like Iran, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh also import soybean meal from India. However, they do not have sufficient foreign exchange to import, it added.

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