India's palm oil imports fell 8% on year in November to their lowest in five months, as a rally in the price of the tropical oil made soyoil more attractive for refiners, a leading trade body said on Tuesday.
The country imported 618,468 tonnes of palm oil in November, down from 672,363 in the same month last year, the Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA) said in a statement.
"Palm oil's discount over soyoil narrowed last month. It made soyoil imports more profitable for refiners," said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm.
India's soyoil imports jumped 52% to 250,784 tonnes, while sunflower oil imports dropped 19% to 214,077 tonnes, it said.
India buys palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia, and other oils, such as soyoil and sunflower oil, from Argentina, Brazil, Ukraine and Russia.
India in late November slashed import tax on crude palm oil (CPO) to 27.5% from 37.5%, but maintained its duty structure for soft oils such as crude soybean oil and crude sunflower oil at 35%.
"This reduction of duty on CPO may encourage larger import of palm oil at the cost of soft oils import in coming months," the SEA said.