* Fixes $1,500/tonne floor price for exports
* Groundnut oil exports appear most viable
* Edible oil exports not seen beyond 50,000 tonnes
(Adds details, quotes, background)
By Nigam Prusty
NEW DELHI, Jan 31 (Reuters) - India has allowed overseas
sale of edible oils without any volume restrictions, Commerce
Minister Anand Sharma said on Thursday, but a floor price means
only groundnut oil is likely to be exported.
India, the world's top importer of vegetable oils, used to
prohibit exports of edible oils, but had allowed overseas sales
of cooking oils in small packs of up to 5 kg for a year to Sept.
30, 2013, with a limit of 20,000 tonnes.
Thursday's move, which includes a minimum export price of
$1,500 per tonne, will cater to the small expatriate appetite
for cooking oils.
"Fixing the floor price makes groundnut oil exports the most
viable among all edible oil varieties," said a Mumbai-based
trader. Most other oils are currently trading below this level,
which means they won't be allowed to be exported.
He said expatriate demand for locally produced cooking oils
could be as high as 50,000 tonnes in the current year. But
conservative trade estimates have put the edible oil exports
between 10,000-20,000 tonnes.
India imports about 8 million tonnes of edible oils each
"We are a net importer of edible oils and the export window
is not at all a viable option," said P.K. Sardar, executive
director of the Central Organisation for Oil Industry and Trade
The main destination of edible oil exports will be the
Middle East where a sizeable population of Indian origin stay.
India, the world's top buyer of vegetable oils, consumes
about 16 million to 17 million tonnes of edible oils every year.
It imports mainly palm oil from Malaysia and Indonesia and small
quantities of soft oils such as soyoil from Brazil and
(Writing by Ratnajyoti Dutta; Editing by Jo Winterbottom and