India introduces licensing provision

Kathmandu, February 8

The Indian government has allowed its traders to import refined palm oil from Nepal. However, they must first acquire an import licence.

This implies that the restriction on import of palm oil from Nepal imposed by the Indian government a month ago has been lifted as Indian traders are allowed to import the commodity from Nepal after they acquire necessary licence from Indian authorities.

Baikuntha Aryal, secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies, informed The Himalayan Times about the Indian government introducing the licensing provision for its traders to import refined palm oil from Nepal. “Those Indian traders or trading firms that acquire import licence for the good from the authorities will coordinate with Nepali palm oil traders or businesses and resume the trade,” he said.

On January 8, India’s Directorate General of Foreign Trade had issued a notification stating a complete restriction on import of refined bleached deodorised palm oil and refined bleached deodorised palmolein. The restriction was aimed at taming Malaysia, but also affected Nepal, which had exported refined palm oil worth billions, making it the country’s largest export item.

The licensing provision in import of refined palm oil has been introduced to allow shipments of the product from countries, including Nepal and Indonesia, following the government’s decision to place the commodity in the restricted import list.

However, licensing norms introduced by India for palm oil import from Nepal is yet unknown.

Meanwhile, the export of refined palm oil to India is yet to be resumed.

Suman Dahal, director general at Department of Customs, said that refined palm oil from Nepal has not been cleared from different customs offices. “I too heard about the resumption of the palm oil trade with India. However, we are yet to receive any official notification from Indian authorities in this regard,” he said.

Nepali traders import crude palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia, process and package it here, before sending it to India.

Nepal’s exports of palm oil to India had started raising eyebrows since end of last fiscal year when it became the top export item for the first time. Nepal had exported palm oil worth Rs 10.3 billion in the last fiscal from ‘zero’ export of the commodity a year before that. This jump took many by surprise because Nepal does not produce palm oil on its own.

Traders were lured towards this business as India had imposed a duty of 40 per cent on imports of palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia, two largest producers of palm oil in the world. Nepal’s palm oil, on the other hand, was subject to a duty of just six per cent in India.