Adrian Wail Akhlas, Jakarta – Indonesia's palm oil exports, including oleochemicals and palm oil kernel, dropped nearly 19 percent in the January to February period driven by lower exports to China as the coronavirus pandemic took a toll on the country's top export commodity.
The Indonesian Palm Oil Producers Association (Gapki) said palm oil exports in the first two months of this year were at 4.93 million tons, a 1.2 million ton decrease from 6.13 million tons shipped in the same period last year.
Palm oil exports to major market China nosedived by 500,000 tons compared to the same period last year, while exports to India fell by 188,000 tons and exports to Africa were down by 250,000 tons.
"Lower exports to China was likely a result of the COVID-19 outbreak while lower exports to Africa was likely caused by high prices," the association said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
"Meanwhile, [we] projected lower exports to India occurred as importers were hesitant to make buying contracts following the plan to limit palm oil imports by India's government."
Gapki data show the palm oil stockpile stood at 4.08 million tons by the end of February, down from 4.54 million tons at the end of January.
The palm oil industry is one of Indonesia's major foreign exchange earners, contributing US$3.5 billion until February to non-oil and gas exports.