Oily Row

Apr. 05 (LBO) – India has slapped a countervailing duty of between US$28-32 per metric tonne on vanaspati oil shipments from Sri Lanka, raising the stakes in a trade dispute that has been simmering for several months.

-Mel Gunasekera:

mel@vanguardlk.com

Imposed through the recent Indian budget, the levy comes at a crucial time, as both nations meet for four days of talks on April 24 to iron out trade issues like a surge in duty free shipments of sensitive products including vanaspati and pepper from Sri Lanka.

“The meetings are on a technical level under CEPA (Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement) to iron out thorny issues like vanaspati and pepper, Assistant Director of Commerce Samantha Wijesekera said.

Vanaspati, a hydrogenated vegetable oil similar to ghee, is a cheaper form of butter fat that was developed in India in the 1930™s.

This grain-like substance, which looks a bit like an off-white facial scrub, is made out palm oil extracts.

Used for cooking, vanaspati is sometimes substituted by a similar product called ˜bakery shortenings™ that Sri Lanka also exports under the free trade agreement with India.

Sri La