New Delhi: India has issued about 70 licences for importing about 5 lakh tonnes of refined palm oil from three countries -- Nepal, Indonesia and Bangladesh, sources said.

On January 8, the government had imposed restrictions on imports of refined palm oil.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade has issued about 60-70 import licences to import about 5 lakh tonnes of refined palm oil, sources said.

The licences will be valid for a period of 18 months only.

During April-December this fiscal, India imported about 23 lakh tonnes of refined palm oil, or about 2.5 lakh tonnes every month.

India is the world''s largest importer of vegetable oils and buys nearly 15 million tonnes annually. Of this, palm oil comprises 9 million tonne, while the remaining 6 million tonnes is soybean and sunflower oil.

Indonesia and Malaysia are the two countries which supply palm oil.

Malaysia produces 19 million tonnes of palm oil in a year, while Indonesia produces 43 million tonnes, as per trade data.

The government''s move to put restrictions on import of refined palm oil came in the backdrop of remarks by Malaysia on the new citizenship law and Kashmir issue.