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Indonesian customs officials seize cooking oil shipment bound for East Timor

Indonesia has halted exports of palm oil derivatives in a bid to stop rising domestic cooking oil prices. (Reuters: Willy Kurniawan)

Indonesia has impounded at least 81,000 litres of cooking oil bound for East Timor, as the government seeks to enforce a ban on exports of crude palm oil and its derivatives.

At least eight shipping containers holding cooking oil and other items were confiscated at Tanjung Perak port on April 28 in Surabaya on the island of Java after the shipment "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 in prison and a fine of up to 5 billion rupiah ($500,000), said Sihard Hadjopan Pohan, a Trade Ministry director.

Officials did not name the ship nor the owner of the cargo.

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

The ban followed street protests where hundreds of students wearing neon jackets marched towards parliament last month.

Police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowds.

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 per cent of palm oil supply.

Chief Economics Minister Airlangga Hartarto has said the export ban would stay in place until bulk cooking oil prices dropped 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.

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Dive Deeper:
Indonesia seeks to balance international, local palm oil demand -official
Indonesia is seeking a balance between capitalising on high global palm oil prices while ensuring food at home is affordable,…
Indonesia seeks to balance international, local palm oil demand
JAKARTA: Indonesia is seeking a balance between capitalising on high global palm oil prices while ensuring food at home is…
Indonesian president's rating hits six-year low as prices rise
Indonesian President Joko Widodo's approval rating has hit a six-year low amid dissatisfaction over soaring cooking oil prices and the…
‘How many more months should we suffer?’: Indonesians struggle with pricey cooking oil
Indonesia’s ban on cooking oil exports has failed to address supply shortages and lower prices of the key ingredient
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Kenya's fuel crisis: how the country's subsidy system works
Oil is an essential commodity for Kenya’s transport and industrial production, electricity generation and water provision. In 2008, as the…
India bans wheat exports as food security comes under threat
India prohibited wheat exports that the world was counting on to alleviate supply constraints sparked by the war in Ukraine,…
Get all your news in one place