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Indonesia seizes tanker over palm oil export ban

The Indonesian Navy has seized a tanker that was carrying palm oil out of the country in contravention of an export ban, a spokesman said on Saturday.

Indonesia, the world’s largest producer of palm oil, prohibited its export last week to rein in skyrocketing domestic prices and shortages.

An Indonesian warship on Wednesday intercepted the Singapore-flagged MV Mathu Bhum, which was carrying 34 containers of palm olein, as it headed for Malaysia, navy spokesman Agung Prasetiawan said in a statement.

Indonesia produces about 60 percent of the world’s palm oil, which is used in a range of products such as cosmetics and chocolate spreads. A third of its output is consumed domestically.

Vegetable oils are among the staple food items that have seen prices hit record highs in the past few weeks following Russia’s invasion of agricultural powerhouse Ukraine, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation said.

Producers in Indonesia have been reluctant to sell at home because exporting is more profitable with high international prices.

Authorities stepped in to control prices, fearing public anger as consumers in several cities were forced to wait for hours at distribution centers to buy cooking oil at subsidized rates.

The Indonesian export ban sent prices of palm, soybean, European rapeseed and canola oils to historic highs.

It plans to resume exports when the local bulk price of cooking oil falls to 14,000 rupiah (US$0.97), having soared in recent weeks to 26,000 rupiah.

The price had dropped to 17,200 rupiah by Friday.
Source: AFP

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