Indonesia starts palm oil export ban

Indonesia enforced a ban on exports of palm oil on Thursday to secure domestic supplies amid rising demand for the product in other parts of the world.

Indonesia is the world's biggest palm oil producer, accounting for nearly 60 percent of output. Retail prices of some types of cooking oil have risen by 70 percent from a year earlier, prompting demonstrations against the hikes.

There are concerns that the supply of sunflower oil, which is mainly produced in Ukraine and Russia, may be disrupted amid Russia's invasion. That is causing higher demand for palm oil as an alternative.

The Indonesian government says it will continue the ban until the average price of cooking oil falls to 14,000 rupiah per liter -- about a dollar -- from the current level of around 17,000 rupiah.

If the ban is prolonged, it could lead to a rise in prices of a wide range of goods because palm oil is used in many products, such as food and cosmetics.

Ueno Wataru at the Jakarta office of the Japan External Trade Organization said Japan imported 630,000 tons of palm oil last year, and 220,000 tons of it came from Indonesia. He said the prices of other cooking oils, such as soybean oil, could also soar.