Indonesia will lift its ban on palm oil exports next week, President Joko Widodo said on Thursday, easing pressure on world vegetable oil markets following a suspension in Ukraine and rising prices due to the war.
The archipelago imposed sanctions last month to protect supplies from a variety of products, from chocolate spreads to cosmetics, in the face of domestic shortages.
“Based on the supply of cooking oil and considering the 17 million people in the palm oil industry – farmers and other support workers – I have decided that cooking oil exports will resume on Monday, May 23,” Widodo said. Online briefing.
“The government will still closely monitor everything to ensure that demand is met at affordable prices,” he said.
Authorities imposed a strict export ban, with the Indonesian navy detaining a tanker carrying palm oil outside the country in violation of orders earlier this month.
After the ban took effect, Widodo said providing 270 million people in the country was his government’s “highest priority.”
Jakarta Agricultural Powerhouse was already under pressure for further saddling of skyrocketing prices following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Palm oil producers staged protests last week in central Jakarta and several cities in Indonesia, complaining that palm oil prices had dropped dramatically.
‘Come back to normal’
The Indonesian leader said he was withdrawing the suspension because domestic supplies and prices of cooking oil had improved since the ban took effect on April 28.
Widodo said the price has dropped from Rs 19,800 ($ 1.35) per liter to about Rs 17,200 ($ 1.17) per liter since the ban.
He said the domestic supply of cooking oil had tripled from 64,500 tonnes per month to 211,000 tonnes after the ban.
Industry figures welcomed the decision to resume exports.
Eddie Martono, secretary general of the Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI), said the agency was “extremely grateful to the government, especially the president,” for lifting the ban.
“It is a fact that soil conditions are very difficult because the tanks are all full. We hope that when exports resume, palm oil production will return to normal.”
Gulat Manurung, chairman of the Oil Palm Farmers’ Association, thanked Widodo and said oil palm farmers would repay his decision by increasing domestic supply.
“We, the oil palm farmers, are committed to helping ensure that an internal supply of cooking oil is available,” he told AFP.
Despite palm oil being Indonesia’s most widely used vegetable oil and the world’s largest producer, the country has been facing a shortage of cooking oil for months due to poor control and reluctance of producers to sell at home.
Deficits have in some cases forced consumers to spend hours in line at distribution centers.
Indonesia produces about 60 percent of the world’s palm oil, one-third of which uses its domestic market. India, China, the European Union and Pakistan are among the major export customers.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)