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Food price relief? Indonesia lifts palm oil export ban

President Joko Widodo said in a statement on Thursday that he had made the decision “based on the current supply and price of cooking oil” and in consideration of the 17 million workers employed in the Indonesian palm oil industry.

Indonesia accounts for nearly 60% of global palm oil production. It banned exports late last month in a bid to maintain domestic supplies and keep prices of its staple cooking oil down. News of the ban sent Malaysian crude palm oil futures prices — the global benchmark — soaring.

Prices fell back 1% Thursday after Widodo’s announcement, according to the Malaysia stock exchange.

Higher prices have squeezed global consumers at the worst possible time. Palm oil is a key ingredient in food and cosmetics. WWF estimates that it’s used in nearly 50% of all packaged products in supermarkets.

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