Worldwide surge in vegetable oil prices
As with soybean oil, current prices for palm oil, sunflowerseed oil, and
other vegetable oils are setting record highs nearly everywhere. Many countries
are attempting to temper the high costs by dropping import tariffs or raising
export tariffs on domestically produced vegetable oils.
Already this year, India's Government has made a series of import tariff
reductions on crude palm oil—now down to 45 % and closer to parity with the
soybean oil tariff. The lack of upward adjustment in government reference prices
since last year (compared to the rise in actual import costs) has also
stabilized total tariff costs.
Partly due to a likely reduction in the
domestic production of rapeseed oil, Indian palm oil imports are seen rising to
4.2 million tonnes (mt) in 2007/08 (from 3.8 million in 2006/07). The increase
in Indian soybean oil imports (to 1.5 mt) should be more modest.
China's oil cost soar
In China, vegetable oil costs have been
a major contributor to the raging inflation in consumer prices. The domestic
soybean harvest, which was reduced sharply this year by lower area and drought,
was estimated 300,000 tons lower this month to 14.3 mt. Rapeseed and other
oilseed crops are also smaller this year.
Soybean oil imports by China
are forecast expanding in 2007/08 to 2.6 mt from 2.4 mt last year, while palm
oil imports are seen up to 5.7 mt versus 5.1 million in 2006/07. Vegetable oil
imports could then account for close to 40 % of total consumption in China.
Costs increase not exempted in Indonesia
overtook Malaysia a few years ago as the world's largest palm oil-producing
country, it has not exempted its own domestic market from major price increases.
This is quite remarkable considering the rapid growth of Indonesian palm oil
output, which expanded 7% in 2006/07 to 16.6 mt. Output in 2007/08 is forecast
up 10% to 18.3 mt due to a 10% increase in productive oil palm area to 5.3
Yet, due to robust export demand for palm oil, prices
in Indonesia are approximately 50% higher since the start of the year.
Russia lowers tariffs
Between December 2007 and May 2008,
Russia's Government will lower import tariffs on soybean oil, sunflowerseed oil,
and canola oil to 5 % from 15 %. In recent years, Russia was transforming into a
net exporter of vegetable oil, but a shortfall in sunflowerseed production this
year will widen its supply deficit. A lower harvested area estimate this month
for Russia trimmed the forecast of 2007 sunflowerseed production to 5.6 mt, down
from last year's record harvest of 6.75 mt.
Increased export taxes in
This month, Argentine authorities announced increases in export
taxes on soybeans and sunflowerseed from 27.5 % to 35 %, and on oilseed products
from 24 % to 32 %. Before they can ship a commodity abroad, exporters are
required to declare their sales to the Government, which determines the tax
owed. The export taxes were primarily raised to boost Argentine Government
revenues from a highly profitable sector, rather than to control domestic
prices. Soybean exports from Argentina in 2007/08 are expected to total 10.2
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