Indonesia seizes cooking oil shipment bound for East Timor

A general view of a palm oil plantation in Siak regency, Riau province, Indonesia, April 26, 2022. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

Indonesia has impounded at least 81,000 litres of cooking oil bound for East Timor, the trade ministry said, as the Southeast Asian country seeks to enforce a ban on exports of crude palm oil and its derivatives including cooking oil.

At least eight shipping containers holding cooking oil and other items were confiscated at Tanjung Perak port on April 28 in Surabaya on Java island after “the ship deceived (authorities) by not listing cooking oil in the export declaration document,” the trade ministry said in a statement late on Thursday.

Those found guilty of breaching the cooking oil export ban could face a maximum of five years of prison and a fine of up to 5 billion rupiah ($341,997), said Sihard Hadjopan Pohan, a director at the trade ministry. Officials did not name the ship or the owner of the cargo.

Indonesia, the world’s biggest palm oil producer, has since late last month halted exports of crude palm oil and refined products in a bid to control soaring prices of cooking oil at home.

The export ban has rattled global vegetable oil markets that were already struggling after the war in Ukraine removed a big chunk of sunflower oil supply. Palm oil makes up more than a third of the world’s vegetable oil market, while Indonesia accounts for around 60% of palm oil supply.

Chief economics minister Airlangga Hartarto has said the export ban would stay in place until bulk cooking oil prices drop to 14,000 rupiah per litre across the country. As of Thursday, Trade Ministry data showed bulk cooking oil was being sold at 16,600 rupiah per litre.($1 = 14,620.0000 rupiah)


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