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India to take up with Sri Lanka cheaper vanaspati import issue

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 14 (UNI) Concerned over the adverse impact on the domestic industry with cheaper import of vanaspati from Sri Lanka, India will take up with the island nation the issue of allowing imports from a third country on zero-duty under the Free Trade Agreement(FTA) between the two countries, Commerce Minister Kamal Nath told the Lok Sabha today.

Responding to queries from some members during Question Hour, the Minister admitted that Sri Lanka was neither producing palm oil nor had vanaspati producing facilities but a lot of stocks were being imported from there.

''Such imports have impacted badly on the local vanaspati industry and ultimately the farmers growing oilseeds in the country...this is a matter of concern,'' he said adding ''We will take up this matter with Sri Lanka soon.'' In the same vein, Mr Kamal Nath said since long, such imports are coming from Nepal, which too hit the domestic industry,'' he said but did not make it clear whether India would take up this issue with Nepal also.

India entered into FTA with Sri Lanka in 2003. Since then, the local industry has been complaining about the cheaper imports from that country which has rendered more than half of the vanaspati units and hundreds of working hands idle.

Several MPs supported the the vanaspati industry's contention that hiking of import duty to 80 per cent on palm oil in the current Budget would be of no use as taking the benefit of zero import duty under India's FTA with Sri Lanka and Nepal, imports from a third country are flooding the domestic markets, rendering the local production unviable.


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