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 Mahamad Rodzi Abdul Ghani
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 Indonesia says still studying palm oil tax hike

Indonesia says still studying palm oil tax hikeJAKARTA, July 18 (Reuters) - Indonesia said on Tuesday it needed more timeto consider raising palm oil export taxes."We are studying the possibility of raising the taxes. But it can't bedecided soon. We need more time to observe whether the rise (in prices) istemporary or stable," Trade and Industry Minister Luhut Pandjaitan told anews conference.He said Indonesia was benefited by a sharp increase in internationalprices because it had boosted exports. But on the other hand the increasehad hit local consumers hard by driving up local prices of cooking oil.Cooking oil or palm olein, made from crude palm oil, is a sensitivecommodity in Indonesia and significant shortages can lead to socialunrest.Indonesia imposes the taxes to control exports, which usually rise sharplywhen the rupiah weakens or international prices increase.Pandjaitan said domestic cooking oil prices had shot up to more than 5,000rupiah ($0.44) this week from 2,700 last month, supported by soaringinternational prices."The government's target is to boost exports but we also have to protectdomestic consumers," Pandjaitan added.Traders said Indonesia was boosting exports to benefit from the risingworld prices.But Pandjaitan said local consumers should not worry about a possibleshortage of cooking oil because local supplies of palm oil are stillabundant and distribution was running smoothly, although the country'soutput was slowing.Indonesia imposes a three percent tax on exports of crude palm oil (CPO)and palm kernels, and a one percent tax on refined bleached deodorised(RBD) palm oil, RBD palm olein and crude olein.Pandjaitan said the recent sharp increase in international prices was dueto optimism on higher import quotas in China and lower duties in India."It's also because of a prediction of decreasing production of soybean oilbecause of an expected long drought in the United States," he added.Indonesian CPO was quoted at $375 a tonne cif Rotterdam on Tuesday from$326 a tonne last Thursday.($1=11,330 rupiah)

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