Government urged to slash olive oil import duty

March 31st, 2008 - 8:34 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 31 (IANS) The Indian Olive Association (IOA) has regretted that its appeal to the central government to abolish the import duty on olive oil has been ignored though tariffs on almost all crude and refined oils have been sharply reduced. “This is an unfortunate oversight on the part of the government of India,” IOA president V.N. Dalmia said in a statement Monday.

“The health benefits of olive oil are universally accepted and an increased use of this as a cooking medium would result in a significant improvement in national health. Moreover, there is no domestic olive oil market to protect,” Dalmia added.

Last week, the government slashed import duty rates on almost all crude and refined oils from the current level of 52-75 percent to 20 percent and 27.5 percent respectively. However, the duty rate on olive oil remains unchanged.

India levies 45 percent duty on virgin olive oil and 40 percent on refined olive oil and olive pomace oil.

“The duty means that one litre of virgin olive oil costs Rs.720. If no duty is charged, it will cost Rs.520. If the duty is reduced to 16 percent, it will cost Rs.600,” Dalmia noted.

“Other non-olive oil producing countries levy lower duties than India. Taiwan and South Korea levy eight percent while China levies 10 percent,” he added.

According to Dalmia, numerous studies on the use of olive oil as a cooking medium have proved that it lowers bad cholesterol and can actually increase the level of good cholesterol and high-density lipoproteins.

“Olive oil is considered the healthiest cooking medium in the world providing incomparable protection against cardio-vascular disease,” he said.

Fifty million Indians suffer from heart problems and the number is expected to double by 2010.

India’s entire requirement of olive oil is met by imports and there is no domestic production in the country and “hence no domestic producers that need protection”, the association pointed out.

“Being an expensive item, olive oil does not compete with other oils in common use. No other domestic product exists with similar health benefits that could be adversely affected by duty reduction,” Dalmia maintained.

The olive oil market in India is expanding rapidly, with 23,000 tonnes being imported in 2007. It is estimated that the figure will rise to 25,000 tonnes by 2010 and to 42,000 tonnes by 2012.

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