MUMBAI - India's palm oil imports dropped nearly 11 percent in November from a year ago to the lowest level in eight months, a trade body said on Thursday, as refiners curtailed purchases due to a hike in import tax.
The world's biggest importer of edible oils bought 716,968 tonnes of palm oil last month, down from 801,311 tonnes a year ago, the Solvent Extractors' Association, a Mumbai-based trade group for oilseed processors, said in a statement.
The Indian government does not provide data on specific edible oil imports.
"Anticipating an import duty hike, refiners cut purchases. The winter season also had an impact," said Sandeep Bajoria, chief executive of vegetable oil importer Sunvin group.
India in November doubled the import tax on crude palm oil to 30 percent, while the duty on refined palm oil was raised to 40 percent from 25 percent.
"Palm oil imports will remain low even in December," Bajoria said.
Despite lower imports of palm oil, the South Asian country's overall purchases of vegetable oils in November rose 6.2 percent from a year earlier to 1.248 million tonnes on increased imports of soyoil and sunflower oil, the trade body said.
Soyoil imports jumped 67 percent from a year ago to 273,928 tonnes, while sunflower oil imports rose 23 percent to 193,810 tonnes, it said.
India's sunflower and soyoil imports could fall this month to around 190,000 tonnes and 170,000 tonnes, respectively, said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm.
"Local edible oil supplies have been rising from new season soybean crop," the dealer said.
India primarily imports palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia and soyoil from Argentina and Brazil. It also buys small volumes of sunflower oil from Ukraine and canola oil from Canada.
For more details of November imports: http://bit.ly/2AWceBO