MUMBAI - India's August palm oil imports rose 2% from a year earlier to 750,134 tonnes, their highest in three months, as buyers increased purchases of refined palm oil ahead of key festivals, a leading trade body said on Wednesday.
The world's biggest buyer of edible oils allowed imports of refined palm oil for six months on June 30 to bring down near record high edible oil prices.
India's refined palm oil imports in August surged to 187,471 tonnes from nil a year ago, the Solvent Extractors' Association of India (SEA) said in a statement.
"Refined palm oil imports increased substantially in August after India relaxed import rules. Similar amount of refined palm oil is likely to be imported in coming months," said B.V. Mehta, executive director of the SEA.
Soyoil purchases halved in August from a year ago to 182,459 tonnes, while sunflower oil imports plunged 55% to 71,340 tonnes, it added.
India buys palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia while other oils, including soyoil and sunflower oil, are sourced from Argentina, Brazil, Ukraine and Russia.
The country's edible oil imports will rise substantially in September as government has slashed import taxes and peak demand season is approaching, said one Mumbai-based vegetable oils dealer with a global trading firm.
India has cut base import taxes on palm oil, soyoil and sunflower oil, according to a government notification issued last week, as New Delhi tries to cool near-record price rises.
"We can see healthy rise in sunflower oil imports as prices have come down sharply. Indian buyers have already contracted for September," the dealer said.
(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Toby Chopra) ((email@example.com; +91-22-68414378 ; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org))