JAKARTA, Feb 17 (Reuters) – Indonesia’s palm oil exports to China have declined due to a drop in demand for the vegetable oil as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, farming ministry officials said.
Indonesia has so far exported 84,000 tonnes of palm oil this month, compared with 371,000 tonnes for the full month of February last year, data from the ministry showed on Monday. Last month it exported 483,000 tonnes to China.
The export volume to China is still expected to increase from the mid-month figure, but demand from there has been hit by the epidemic, said Ali Jamil, head of agriculture quarantine body at the ministry.
“Coronavirus is having some impact to our exports,” Kasdi Subagyono, the ministry’s plantation director general, said. “But this is only for China. As a whole, exports have still increased.”
China was the main destination for Indonesian palm oil exports in 2019, according to data from Indonesia Palm Oil Association, accounting for 19% of total exports.
Across mainland China, officials said the total number of coronavirus cases rose to 70,548, with 1,770 deaths. Outside China, more than 500 infections have been confirmed, mostly in people who travelled from Chinese cities, with five deaths.
The outbreak has disrupted business activities in China and is expected to cut demand for various commodities it imports. (Reporting by Bernadette Christina Munthe; Writing by Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Mike Harrison)