Indonesia suspends all exports of palm oil
Indonesia enforces a ban on all Palm oil exports, fearing oil scarcity.
Indonesia began enforcing a total ban on palm oil exports on Thursday, thereby disrupting a global vegetable oil market that has already reached peak levels.
The archipelago nation is facing a shortfall of domestic cooking oil supplies and skyrocketing costs, with consumers in numerous places having to queue for hours in front of distribution stations to get the crucial commodity at subsidized rates.
Authorities in Southeast Asia's most populous country are concerned that scarcity and rising costs would cause societal unrest and have taken steps to safeguard supplies of the substance, which is used in a variety of products like chocolate spreads and cosmetics.
In a last-minute reversal late Wednesday, they stressed that the embargo would apply to all oilseed exports, not only those meant for culinary oils, as announced a day earlier.
"All products," including crude palm oil, "are covered by the Ministry of Trade regulation and will be enforced," said Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto.
President Joko Widodo stated that his government's "top priority" is to provide for the country's 270 million citizens.
"As the world's largest palm oil producer, it is ironic that we are having difficulties getting cooking oil," he said.
Indonesia produces over 60% of the world's palm oil, with one-third consumed in the country. Among its key export consumers are India, China, the European Union, and Pakistan.
The months-long shortfall has been worsened by insufficient regulation and companies unwilling to sell domestically because high worldwide prices have made exports more profitable.
Jakarta intends to resume exports once the price of bulk cooking oil on local markets falls to 14,000 rupiah (97 cents) per liter, after rising by 70% in recent weeks to 26,000 rupiahs ($1.80).
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, vegetable oils are among several key food goods that have seen record high prices in recent weeks as a result of the war in Ukraine.