SINGAPORE Oct 30 The world's largest edible oil
buyers China and India should reduce import tariff to spur
demand for eco-friendly palm oil, industry body Roundtable on
Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) said on Tuesday.
Formed in 2004, the RSPO brings together plantation firms,
consumers and green groups to promote the supply of palm oil
produced from estates that do not harm wildlife or cut forests
Take up of more expensive green palm oil has been dominated
by the European Union, with price-sensitive India and China with
their billion-plus populations slow to order cargoes, said RSPO
President Jan-Kees Vis.
"You would only need to shave a tiny proportion from the
import tariff in order to make CSPO (certified sustainable palm
oil) competitive with non-certified palm oil," Vis told
reporters at the sidelines of the RSPO meeting in Singapore.
India and China account for almost 30 percent of global palm
oil consumption in 2011, according to the U.S. Department of
Agriculture data, making them key in RSPO's campaign to get more
plantations to produce eco-friendly cargoes.
"Both markets are very price sensitive, and even though the
sustainability premium is not high, any premium is a problem,"
A lower import tariff for green palm oil could attract
producers to grow more sustainable palm oil, which currently has
an annual output capacity of about 6 million tonnes -- roughly
12 percent of global palm oil production.
Chinese import duty for edible vegetable oils is at 9
percent, and 2 percent for industrial palm oil use. For India,
there is no duty on CPO imports, while the refined palm oil
attracts a duty of 7.5 percent.
But Vis, who is also the global director of sustainable
sourcing development at Anglo-Dutch consumer goods giant
Unilever , said the RSPO had to work with local
industry players to push for these tariff cuts.
"If we as the RSPO board walk into the government office in
New Delhi, I don't even think they will grant us an interview.
So we have to work with the local players," Vis said.
Talks are in progress to convince the Chinese government to
consider the proposal, but Vis said that the process could be a
"We are working with the Chinese chamber of commerce for
food and agricultural products. They are supporting the
sustainable palm oil network in China," Vis said. "We're trying
to get it into the next five-year plan."