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Indonesia denies importing dates from Israel

Jakarta Globe - March 15, 2024

Jayanty Nada Shofa, Jakarta – Indonesia denies that it has imported dates from Israel, arguing that it mainly buys the fruit from Tunisia and Egypt, among others.

Boycotts against Israeli products have been on the rise across the globe, including Indonesia, since the Gaza conflict intensified. The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) recently called for people to refrain from buying Israeli dates – the sweet fruit that Muslims usually consume to break their fast during Ramadan.

"There are no imports of dates from Israel. None. ... BPS [Central Statistics Agency] data shows that the dates we import mostly come from Tunisia, Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia," Amalia Adininggar Widyasanti, the acting head at BPS, told a hybrid press briefing on Friday.

According to Amalia, Indonesia imported $17.18 million worth of dates in February 2024, up by 25.77 percent from $13.66 million in January. This means that Indonesia's date imports totaled $30.84 million in the first two months of 2023.

About 58 percent of the date imports in January-February came from Tunisia and Egypt. Indonesia bought $9.15 million worth of dates from Tunisia over the said period, while imports of the fruit from Egypt totaled $8.74 million. In addition, it also bought dates from Iran worth $2.87 million and from Saudi Arabia ($2.66 million) over the same period. Approximately $7.42 million worth of dates – equivalent to 24.07 percent – came from other countries.

Indonesia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel, although Trade Ministry data shows they are still trading with one another. The ministry reported that Israel-Indonesia trade amounted to $187.7 million in 2023. In January 2024 alone, the bilateral trade stood at $20.2 million.

Indonesia is importing less dates overall this year. For comparison, Indonesia bought $19.34 billion worth of dates from overseas in February 2023. The Indonesian government this year declared March 12 as the first day of Ramadan. Last year's fasting month also began in March.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/business/indonesia-denies-importing-dates-from-israe