Indonesia seizes a ship carrying palm oil exported despite the ban

The Indonesian navy seized an oil tanker carrying palm oil from Indonesia in violation of the export ban on this product, a navy spokesman said Saturday.

Navy spokesman Agung Prasityawan said in a statement that an Indonesian military tanker intercepted Singapore flagged vessel MV Mathu Boom while it was in trip to Malaysia.

He explained that “the ship carries 34 containers containing two refined, bleached and deodorized palm oleins. This is the type of material that is temporarily banned from exporting.”

And last week, Indonesia suspended exports of palm oil, which is the largest producing country in the world, to address the shortage of cooking oils and their high prices in local markets.

Indonesia supplies around 60% of the world’s palm oil production, two thirds of which is consumed domestically. Last year it exported 34.2 million tons of edible oils along with a wide range of other products, from cosmetics to food.

Edible oil prices hit an all-time high in March due to global supply shortages in following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Indonesia, with a population of 270 million, has struggled with distribution and storage, while producers prefer to sell their shipments internationally to take advantage of the higher prices.

The supply of palm oil, the main cooking oil, has been a problem since the beginning of the year. Inaccessible consumers had to wait hours in long lines at subsidized oil distribution centers in many cities, prompting the government to take action to try to control prices.

Ban on Indonesian exports has led to prices of palm oil, soybean, European turnip or GMO equivalents in Canada and rapeseed levels record.

Jakarta expects to resume exports when the wholesale price of cooking oil drops to 14,000 rupees (97 cents), after rising 70% to 26,000 rupees in recent weeks, reaching 17,200 rupees on Friday.

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