MUMBAI: India on Thursday clarified that duty-free imports of soyoil and sunflower oil shipped before March 31 would be allowed until the end of June, after hundreds of thousands of cargoes were stuck at ports over confusion over import rules.

Earlier this year, the world’s biggest importer of vegetable oils scrapped a duty-free imports quota of 2 million tonnes of crude sunflower oil and soyoil for the this fiscal started on April 1.

But the move stuck cargoes of around 90,000 tonnes at Indian ports and another 180,000 tonnes in transit that were loaded before the government deadline of March 31, dealers said.

“A few shipments were stuck at ports for the past few weeks could now enter in to the country after this clarification,” said Sandeep Bajoria, CEO Sunvin Group, a vegetable oil brokerage and consultancy firm.

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India imports soyoil mainly from Argentina, Brazil and the United States and sunoil from Russia and Ukraine.

The government notification would provide relief to importers, but the imports would dampen local oilseed prices and squeeze farmer income, said B.V. Mehta, executive director of Solvent Extractors’ Association of India.

India’s palm oil imports in May could fall since the clarification would increase availability of soyoil and sunflower oil, said a New-Delhi-based dealer with a global trade house.

India imports palm oil mainly from Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.

Its palm oil imports in April fell 30% from a month earlier to hit a 14-month low, as its premium over rival soft oils prompted price-sensitive buyers to shift to sunflower oil and soyoil, five dealers told Reuters last week.

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