New Delhi: The government has raised the import tax on crude edible oils and refined oils by 5 percentage points each to protect local farmers from rising imports from Malaysia and Indonesia.
In an order made public on Thursday, it said the import tax on the crude variety of vegetable oil would rise to 7.5 per cent from 2.5 per cent, while that on refined oil would rise to 15 from 10 per cent with immediate effect.
India is the world's biggest vegetable oil importer. It meets nearly 60 per cent of its 18-19 million tonnes of annual demand from overseas, mostly in the form of palm oil from top producers Indonesia and Malaysia.
Hit by cheaper vegetable oil imports from Malaysia and Indonesia, industry body the Solvent Extractors Association of India (SEA) had petitioned the government to raise the import duty on crude vegetable oils to 10 per cent and 25 per cent on refined products.
BV Mehta, executive director at the SEA, welcomed the government's move but said it was not enough to safeguard the local producers.
A rising population, increasing prosperity and low oilseeds output are stoking vegetable oil demand in India.
In the year that began in November, India is likely to import a record 13 million tonnes of edible oils, a leading importer said in September, up from an estimated 11.6 million tonnes, including 8 million tonnes of palm oil, the previous year.