February 15, 2020 11:00 AM NPT
By: Binod Subedi
BIRATNAGAR, Feb 15: Indian traders have started placing orders for palm oil to Nepali exporters after the Indian government opened doors for the import of refined palm oil into the country.
The traders started ordering after a month of obstruction in the export of palm oil from Nepal to India. Entrepreneurs have said that they are sending details on supply capacity of the oil they can export to India. The trade of palm oil worth billions of rupees was uncertain after the Indian government suddenly stopped the import of palm oil from Nepal.
Palm oil that passed through customs checking was also put on halt in the border point. Pawan Kumar Sarada, operator of Pashupati Khadya Udyog said that, oil ready to be exported and whose customs has been cleared is also still in the border point. “They are still in the customs point,” he said. “There is no space in the factory and the products have been kept where they were put on halt the last time.” He said that they are forced to keep the products in that situation for a month.
The tankers of the industry was already full because of which the deported products could not be brought back. Refined oil in customs point and industry is on hold. Similarly, raw oil brought from third countries are also on hold at the Kolkata port and Indian customs points.
“The oil industry doesn't have the capacity to store more oil and the Indian prohibition on the export have caused this and the oil are still in the place where they were when the Indian government imposed restriction on the import,” said Sarada.
He said that the recent decision of the Indian government has relieved oil industrialists. “We are hopeful that the export of palm will be possible after the government relaxed the decision,” he said adding that the possibility of the export of halted products can be resumed after a few days.
“We have already sent the details on the products that are ready to be exported to Indian buyers,” he said, “We have got the information that they have asked for permission to import the oil.” After the government allows the import, the trade of refined palm oil will resume once again.
According to the Biratnagar Customs Office, the probability of resuming the supply of palm oil has intensified because of recent Indian policy. Maniram Poudel, spokesperson of Biratnagar Customs Office said that, though the supply has not resumed yet, the export of refined palm will start shortly. “As the Indian importers have started seeking permission to make imports, the palm oil that have been put on hold will be exported very soon,” he said. After India halted the import of palm oil without any formal notice, more than Rs 7 billion worth of investment of oil producers were at risk.
The Nepali oil industry started importing crude palm oil from third countries, refined them and exported to India from last year. The export of palm oil had reduced the gap of the country's trade deficit. A total of five oil plants had been refining and exporting palm oil to India. After the export increased, four additional plants in Sunsari Morang Industrial Corridor were preparing to come into operation.
The industry of Biratnagar had been exporting 1,000 metric tons palm oil daily. Oil worth Rs 4 billion was exported from the Biratnagar border point last year. According to the statistics of the Biratnagar Customs Office, palm oil worth Rs 4 billion was exported in the first five months of the current fiscal year – FY2019/20.