November 23: Nepali exporters have shifted their focus towards exporting refined soybean oil after India banned the import of palm oil more than six months ago.
The exporters of Nepal has been processing soybean oil ever since India banned import of palm oil in May.
Soybean oil has replaced palm oil as the top export product of Nepal. Palm oil was the chief export product of Nepal until last year although Nepal doesn’t cultivate palm oil itself.
A review of export through Birgunj customs show that the export of soybean to India in the first quarter of the current fiscal year has increased by five times compared to the corresponding period of last fiscal year.
In the first four months of the current fiscal year, Nepal exported 48,281 metric tons of soybean oil worth Rs 6.83 billion to India. The export of soybean oil during the same period of last fiscal year was just 10,519 metric tons worth Rs 1.33 billion, informed customs officer Ramesh Sukhmani.
Birgunj is the main customs point of Nepal from where refined edible oils are exported to India and third countries.
Nepal had exported palm oil of Rs 18.31 billion in total during the last fiscal year. The export of palm oil through Birgunj alone was worth Rs 11.72 billion which is almost 60 percent of the total export.
Out of two dozen industries that produce refined oil in Nepal, 14 are located in Birgunj area, informed Suresh Rungata, operator of OCB Food.
“The export of palm oil came to a sudden halt. The exporters then shifted their focus to soybean oil, which has provided them some relief,” said Rungata.
Nepali exporters have been processing unrefined oil and exporting the refined products to India and other countries. They had been charging 30 percent more for the refined product and exporting them to India without paying any customs duty under a concessional scheme of the Indian government.
India has imposed a heavy customs duty on import of products like palm oil in order to protect its local farmers and industries. India charges 37.5 percent customs duty on oil and 45 percent on readymade goods from countries other than SAARC nations.