Even with Indonesia’s temporary curb on exports of its highly sought-after palm oil, the country’s import of the commodity was at a seven-month high in May.

Palm oil exports in May were their highest in seven months and up 15% in April as the country overcame curbs on Indonesian exports by sourcing more of the commodity from Malaysia, Thailand and Papua New Guinea, according to five industry officials.

Higher purchases by India, the world’s biggest importer of vegetable oil, could support Malaysian palm oil prices, which are trading near a record high.

The country imported 660,000 tonnes of palm oil in May, up from 572,508 tonnes in April, according to the average estimate from five dealers.

Imports from Indonesia fell in May, but refiners managed to buy more from Malaysia, Thailand, and Papua New Guinea, said Sandeep Bajoria, chief executive of Sunvin Group, a vegetable oil brokerage and consultancy.

Indonesia, the world’s biggest producer and exporter of palm oil, on April 28 halted exports of the product to control soaring prices at home. Jakarta allowed exports to resume from May 23 but put in place policies to safeguard domestic supplies.

The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India, a trade body based in Mumbai, is likely to publish May’s import figure in mid-June.

Meanwhile, soyoil imports in May rose to 352,614 tonnes from 315,853 tonnes in April, said a senior government official. It could rise sharply in the coming months, because New Delhi has allowed duty-free imports of 2 million tonnes of the commodity, according to a Mumbai-based dealer with a global trading firm.

Sunflower oil imports also jumped to 123,970 tonnes in May from 67,788 tonnes a month earlier, the government official said.

India buys soyoil mainly from Argentina and Brazil and sunflower oil from Ukraine and Russia.

“As sunoil shipments from Ukraine have stopped, India is trying to import more from Russia,” the dealer said.

Source : The Hindu