January 13: Authorities of Nepal and India held bilateral discussions to resume the export of refined palm oil from Nepal in the wake of restriction imposed by India.
According to the State Minister for Industry, Commerce and Supplies Moti Dugad, commerce secretary Baikuntha Aryal talked with his Indian counterpart over the phone on Saturday to ensure that the restrictions do not apply to Nepali traders.
“India has ensured us that they will loosen the restriction for Nepal,” he said, adding, “The talks were positive and we expect to see positive results in a couple of days.” He also informed that he was initiating ministerial-level talks on Monday.
Issuing a circular on Wednesday, India had imposed a restriction on imports of refined palm oil and refined palmolein. This has worried Nepali businessmen, as refined palm oil has emerged as Nepal’s top export in recent times, with majority of the product going to Indian markets.
State Minister Dugad stated, “The Indian side clarified that the restrictions were not aimed at Nepal and they were in favour of lifting the restrictions on Nepali businesses.” He further informed that India was seeking to lift the restrictions through the bilateral commerce treaty signed between the two countries. He also said that there was no need for traders to be alarmed.
Meanwhile, members of the Oil Manufacturers Association met with Dugad on Friday and requested the government to take appropriate measures stating that Nepali industries are set to lose millions of rupees due to the Indian restriction.
Refining palm oil started in Nepal from the last fiscal year although the country itself does not produce palm oil. Nepali industries import crude oil from Malaysia and elsewhere, refine it and sell it to India, with a 30 percent price increment.