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India clears 500,000 T of corn imports at much-reduced duty in boost for poultry sector

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FILE PHOTO: Field of ripe wheat ready for harvesting is seen in Corn
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By Rajendra Jadhav

MUMBAI (Reuters) - India has authorised imports of 500,000 tonnes of corn this year at a concessional 15% import tax, the government said late on Tuesday, as New Delhi tries to augment supplies of the animal feed for the poultry industry.

India, the world's seventh-biggest corn producer, normally imposes a 60% import tax on the grain.

The corn imports under the tariff-rate quota (TRQ) were allowed for end-consumers in the poultry and starch supply sectors, the government said in a notification.

A major exporter of corn to southeast Asia until a few years ago, India has turned importer as output has fallen and demand has grow from domestic poultry producers and corn starch manufacturers.

India's corn imports in 2019 jumped to 312,389 tonnes in 2019 from just 30,962 tonnes a year ago, the government data showed.

India, which does not allow cultivation of any genetically modified food crops, has rules in place to ensure that imports contain no trace of genetically modified organisms.

New Delhi also cleared imports of 10,000 tonnes of milk and cream powder for this year at a concessional 15% import tax, the government notification said.

The country also authorised import quotas of 150,000 tonnes each of rapeseed oil and sunflower oil carrying import taxes of 45% and 50% respectively.

India is the world's biggest importer of edible oils. It mainly imports rapeseed/canola oil from Canada and sunflower oil from Ukraine and Russia.

But B.V. Mehta, executive director of the Solvent Extractors' Association (SEA), a Mumbai-based trade body, said Indian refiners may be unlikely to import rapeseed oil and sunflower oil under those tariff-rate quotas as the import tax on regular imports is actually lower, at 35%.

(Reporting by Rajendra Jadhav; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)