KARACHI: Pakistan has become the third largest importer of cooking oil after China and India, a statement said on Saturday.
“The import of crude and refined cooking oil has increased to 2.6 million tons per annum in Pakistan,” Westbury Group Chief Executive Rasheed Jan Mohammad said at a one-day conference on edible oil.
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Pakistan also imports 2.2 million tons oil seeds every year, he said.
Imports help the country meet around 75% of its domestic needs. The remaining need is met through locally produced banola and mustard oils.
Pakistan imports crude and refined cooking oils (palm and palm olein) mainly from Malaysia and Indonesia and brings in soybean oil from North America and Brazil.
Jan Mohammad said approximately 30% of the import bill is comprised of taxes that traders pay at Pakistan’s sea ports. “The government should rationalise the taxes,” he said.
Dr James Fry, Chairman of LMC International, a research institute of the UK, said fluctuation in production, demand and price of edible oils has a direct link with crude fuel oils in the world. “The production and supply of palm oil would increase in 2017,” he projected.
The statement issued by Pakistan Edible Oil Conference (PEOC) quoted speakers at the conference, saying that Pakistan needs to set up one more import terminal at sea ports to keep the flow of goods smooth.
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They said that Pakistan has so far invested Rs50 billion in import, processing and storage industries of edible oil. They estimated a similar quantum of investment in the years to come. Trade Development Authority of Pakistan Chief Executive SM Muneer said revival of the local economy, increased disposable income, surging demand for cooking oil and rising population have created opportunities for more investment in the edible oil industry in Pakistan.
Zubair Tufail, President, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that per-capita consumption of cooking oil in Pakistan is among the highest in the world.
He said Malaysia and Indonesia remained two big sources of import of the oil into the Pakistan. He asked Malaysia and Indonesia to increase investment in the edible oil industry in Pakistan, as they can take benefit of transit trade to Afghanistan and Central Asian countries via Pakistan.
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Sheikh Amjad Rafique, a speaker at the conference, said Malaysia has imposed taxes on export of oil to Pakistan. “This is a negation of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Pakistan and Malaysia,” he said.
He said the Pakistani government needs to engage with Malaysia to remove this anomaly and exploit full benefit of the agreement in place.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2017.
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