The edible oil regulator SEA said on Wednesday shipments of crude sunflower and soybean oil are being held up at ports due to customs clearance problems, and urged the government to address the matter immediately, otherwise it could lead to shortages and a spike in retail prices.
The government had allowed a zero-tariff tariff quota (TRQ) for importing crude sunflower and soybean oil in fiscal year 2022-23, and shipments were allowed to clear until June 20, 2023, provided the “bill of lading” date was March 31 it.
“Unfortunately, Customs insist on ‘Bill of Entry’ and will not accept a ‘Bill of Lading Date’, so shipments have been held up since April 1, 2023,” said Ajay Jhunjhunwala, President of the Solvent Extractors Association (SEA), warning that can also lead to a shortage and also increase the price of cooking oils.”
The association has strongly taken up the issue with food and trade ministries, urging them to allow the shipment of these two cooking oils based on the “bill of lading” date communicated by the Directorate-General for Foreign Trade (DGFT), he said.
“We expect the matter to be resolved shortly,” Jhunjhunwala said in a letter to SEA members.
India covers about 56 percent of its annual cooking oil consumption through imports, with annual inbound shipments of about 13-14 million tons.