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Palm oil imports: India’s palm oil imports fall 10% in May as Indonesia curbs exports

India’s palm oil imports in May fell 10% from a month ago as Indonesia’s top producer cut edible oil exports, a trade body said on Tuesday.

The South Asian country is the world’s largest importer of vegetable oils and lower buying could weigh on Malaysian palm oil futures prices.

India imported 514,022 tonnes of palm oil in May, compared to 572,508 tonnes in April, according to India’s Solvent Extractors’ Association (SEA).

Indonesia, the world’s largest producer and exporter of palm oil, suspended exports of this product on April 28 to control soaring prices on its territory. Jakarta has allowed exports to resume from May 23, but has policies in place to protect domestic supplies.

In May, Indian refiners bought more palm oil from Malaysia, Thailand and Papua New Guinea, but overall imports were still down, the SEA said.

“In June, palm oil imports could exceed 600,000 tonnes as Indonesia has started granting export permits,” said a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading company.

Indonesia’s export allocation for palm oil products has been increased to 2.25 million tonnes, a senior Commerce Ministry official said on Monday, from around 1 million.

India’s soybean oil imports in May jumped 37% from a month ago to 373,043 tonnes, while sunflower oil imports more than doubled to 118,482 tonnes , the trade body said.

India buys soybean oil mainly from Argentina and Brazil and sunflower oil from Ukraine and Russia.

The country’s soybean oil imports could rise sharply in coming months, with New Delhi allowing 2 million tonnes of the product to be imported duty-free, traders said.