MUMBAI - India's vegetable oil imports in December fell 10 percent from a year ago to 1.1 million tonnes as refiners slashed overseas soyoil purchases after supplies rose from the local crop, a trade body said on Friday.
The country's imports of soyoil stood at 79,250 tonnes for the month, well down on the 232,132 tonnes bought last year, the Solvent Extractors' Association, a Mumbai-based trade group for oilseed processors, said in a statement.
"Indian import duty has gone up so people were waiting to see the impact of duty on prices. Supply from local soybean crop was also good," said Sandeep Bajoria, chief executive of vegetable oil importer Sunvin group.
India, the world's biggest edible oil buyer, in November doubled the import tax on crude palm oil to 30 percent, while the duty on refined palm oil was raised to 40 percent from 25 percent.
Soybean crushing has picked up after the duty hike, dealers said.
The country's palm oil imports in December were 722,857 tonnes, slightly down from 723,158 tonnes a year ago, the SEA data showed.
India's palm oil and soyoil imports in January could rise to 775,000 tonnes and 190,000 tonnes respectively, Bajoria said.
India primarily imports palm oil from Indonesia and Malaysia and soyoil from Argentina and Brazil. It also buys small volumes of sunflower oil from Ukraine and canola oil from Canada.
(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; editing by Richard Pullin)