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India’s palm oil imports seen muted even as Indonesia lifts export ban

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NEW DELHI : India’s palm oil imports in June are unlikely to spike despite Indonesia’s decision to lift its ban on overseas shipments as a rally in palm oil prices has made rival soyoil more attractive for refiners, five dealers told on Friday.

Lower-than-normal imports by India, the world’s biggest palm oil buyer, could weigh on Malaysian palm oil prices, but could lift soyoil shipments from Argentina, Brazil and the United States, supporting Chicago soyoil prices.

“Indians are not rushing to buy as prices have jumped because of Indonesia’s export restriction,” said Sandeep Bajoria, Chief Executive of Sunvin Group, a vegetable oil brokerage and consultancy firm. Indonesia will reimpose a domestic sales requirement on palm oil, its government said on Friday, a day after the world’s biggest producer of the key edible oil reversed a ban on its export. Soyoil’s premium over palm oil for India buyers have narrowed to just $70 per tonne, dealers said.

Crude palm oil was being offered in India at about $1,750 a tonne, including cost, insurance and freight (CIF), for June shipments, compared with $1,820 for crude soybean oil. A month ago, palm oil was trading at a discount of more than $150 per tonne to soyoil. India’s palm oil imports in May could fall to about 500,000 tonnes from 572,508 tonnes a month ago, dealers said.

“In June, imports will rise since Indonesia has allowed exports, but there won’t be a massive jump. Palm prices are not very attractive,” said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm. India’s palm oil imports could rise to 550,000 tonnes in June, dealers said. India on an average imports 700,000 tonnes of palm oil a month.

Limited availability of palm oil and sunflower oil prompted refiners to increase soyoil buying from Argentina, Brazil and United States for prompt shipments, said a New Delhi-based dealer with a global trading firm.

India’s soyoil imports in May could rise to 450,000 tonnes from 273,151 tonnes in April, dealers said. In June, soyoil imports could rise to about 480,000 tonnes, they said.

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