In a major policy shift, the Indian Government on Monday opened up the exports of edible oils such as groundnut oil, soyabean oil, sesame oil and maize oil in bulk quantity. So far, export of edible oils was allowed under branded consumer packs of up to 5 kg. The latest move comes on the back of an anticipated record oilseed output of 33.60 mt in 2016-17, up from 25.30 mt in the previous year and exporters feel that China could emerge as a major destination for the Indian groundnut oil.

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The Directorate General of Foreign Trade on Monday issued a notification amending the export policy for edible oils.

Till now the export of edible oils such as coconut oil and rice bran oil was allowed freely in bulk, while other edible oils were allowed only under the branded consumer packs of up to 5 kg with minimum export price (MEP) of US $ 900 per tonne. Major oils exported in consumer packs are groundnut oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil and mustard oil.

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“The decision of allowing other edible oils such as groundnut oil, sesame oil, soyabean oil and maize oil will boost the overall edible oil export and improve the utilisation of the domestic oil millers. This is a welcome step for the industry,” said Atul Chaturvedi, president, the Solvent Extractors’ Association of India (SEA).

Chaturvedi said the move will encourage bulk exports of groundnut oils to countries such as China and Europe. Additionally, India’s non-GMO soyabean will have an advantage in the international market as those nations looking for non-GMO soya bean oil will turn to India, he added.

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The quantum of potential export was difficult to estimate, however the trade body, believes that previously the edible oil shipments had touched a peak of 40,000-50,000 tonnes a few years ago.

“This is decision will have major impact on the groundnut oil sector. This is for the first time India has opened bulk export of edible oils to the world. This will go a long way for the sector,” said Satyanarayan Agarwal, an edible oil trader.

The oil trading community has been representing repeatedly to the Central government for allowing export of all edible oils in bulk.

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The bumper crop conditions had cascading effect on the oilseed value chain with prices of some of the oilseeds like soybean and groundnut sinking to nearly their MSP levels.