Palm oil import duties may rise again this yr: analyst

India may raise import duties on edible oils such as palm oil and soyoil again this year, with the government looking to protect domestic oilseed farmers as inflation slows, leading industry analyst Dorab Mistry said.

India, the world's No.1 edible oil buyer, this month hiked import duties on crude imports to 2.5 percent from zero and lifted a six-year freeze on the taxable value of cargoes to curb cheap imports from top palm suppliers Indonesia and Malaysia.

The country kept the import tax on refined edible oil at 7.5 percent for now.

"I expect the next step to be announced in the budget at the end of February," Mistry, head of trading with India's leading speciality chemicals group, Godrej Industries, told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

"The industry has requested import duty at 10 percent on unrefined oils and 17.5 percent on refined oils, and I believe we shall get that level by the end of March at the latest," he said.

With ample sunflower oil coming in from Ukraine and Russia in August, India's government could then raise import duties for a third time, with crude grades rising to 20 percent and refined oils to 27.5 percent, Mistry said.

Mistry, who is widely sought in the industry for his forecasts on the palm oil market, said current prices of 2,400-2,500 ringgit ($790-$820) were too high given that stocks in Malaysia hit a record of 2.6 million tonnes in December.

He said Malaysian stocks would not go below 2 million tonnes in the "foreseeable future".

Indonesia, which does not publish stock figures, has current inventory of about 5 million tonnes, Mistry said, adding this would drop to 4 million tonnes before building up again from May.

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