Thu, 17 Jan 2008
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Boediono said the government may increase the number of soybean importers as part of its short-term measure to curb the upward trend in the price of the commodity.

"We will do whatever to keep down the (import) cost," the minister said here on Wednesday.

He said the government could not do much to curb the rocketing soybean price because it was out of the government`s control.

"But we will try to keep it down by lowering the cost," he said.

The government said on Monday it would lower duty on imported soybean to lower its price at home.

"One concrete move we can take is to lower the import duty from 10 percent to five or zero percent. We will calculate it later," Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu said after a talk with tofu and tempeh (fermented soybean cake) producers at the Presidential Palace.

Some 3,000 tofu and tempeh producers staged a rally outside the Presidential Palace, urging the government to stabilize the soybean price which jumped almost by 100 percent in the past year.

To get their demand fulfilled, the demonstrators agreed to cease production for three days starting on Monday.

The minister said the soybean price almost doubled to US$600 a ton in the past seven months due to the declining production in the United States as a main supplier.

The U.S has converted some of its soybean farms into corn farms to benefit from the higher price of corn used for biofuel products, she said.

"This has reduced soybean supply. Our annual demand amounts to 2 milion tons while domestic production reaches only 600,000 to 800,000 tons," she said. (*)



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