January 10: The export of palm oil from Birgunj border has come to a complete halt since Thursday (January 9) after the Indian government imposed a ban on import of refined palm oil a day ago.
India-bound palm oil checked and approved by Birgunj Customs Point have been stopped by the Raxaul Customs of India across the border. Jogbani Customs Point has also not allowed Nepali palm oil to enter India.
Nepali exporters have made written request to the Birgunj Customs Office to take initiative to bring back the palm oil from the other side of the border, informed Chief Customs Officer Dhundi Prasad Niraula.
However, Niarula said that they have not received any official letter regarding the halt in export of palm oil so far.
The Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies held discussions with the representatives of the private sector on Thursday after the Depart of Customs of India on Wednesday (January 8) imposed the ban on import of refined palm oil.
During the meeting, the private sector urged the government to seek the details about the decision from the Indian government.
“India’s decision is not clear on whether it is specifically aimed at Nepal or not. So we have requested the government to have a clear view about it,” said an entrepreneur who attended the meeting.
Secretary at the ministry Baikuntha Aryal said that they will review the documents and initiate the process to solve this issue.
Meanwhile, joint secretary at the ministry Navaraj Dhakal said that the ministry took suggestions from the private sector to resolve the issue.
“We will now coordinate with the law and foreign ministries as well as the Indian Embassy,” he added.
He said that the ministry is in constant talks with the concerned stakeholders to resolve this crisis.
“They have used the term ‘restricted’. So we are trying to understand whether they have completely banned the product or are trying to introduce new provisions,” said Dhakal.
Senior official at the Trade and Export Promotion Centre Krishna Raj Bajgain says the country can take help from the Nepal-India Trade Treaty. He argues that the does not allow such ban so Nepal can discuss the issue with Indian side taking this point into consideration.
Nepalese exporters have been hard hit by the sudden decision of India to impose the ban of refined palm oil as India is the chief market of the product which is packaged in Nepal.
In the current fiscal year, export of palm oil in the first five months accounted for 25 percent of the total export of Nepal.