Indonesia will lift its palm oil export ban from Monday, May 23, following improvements in the domestic cooking oil supply situation, President Joko Widodo said on Thursday.
The decision to lift the ban was taken despite the price of bulk cooking oil having not yet reached the targeted 14,000 rupiah per litre price, as the government considers the welfare of 17 million workers in the palm oil industry, the president said in a video statement, news agency Reuters reported.
Indonesia, the world’s biggest palm oil exporter, has since April 28 halted shipments of edible oil in a bid to flood the domestic market with supplies to control the soaring prices of cooking oil.
Reports had suggested that despite the tough policies that have rattled edible oil markets and cost hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue, the price of cooking oil, a staple for Indonesian families, has not come down, hitting the approval rating of President Joko Widodo.
Jokowi, as the president is popularly known, had said the need for affordable food trumped revenue concerns and the export ban would be lifted only after domestic needs were met.
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Palm oil traders have been speculating that the ban could’ve been lifted partially, particularly with storage tanks filling up.
Politics is likely to have played a key part in the timing. A survey this week by pollster Indikator Politik Indonesia showed the president’s approval rating is at a six-year low, largely tied to the rising cost of cooking oil and knock-on inflationary effects.