Ivory Coast trade embargo backed by US

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Ivory Coast produces a third of the world's cocoa supply.
Image: David.Monniaux.

The United States has stated Monday that it will support a month-long ban on cocoa exports from the Ivory Coast, which was called for by its internationally recognised president, Alassane Ouattara. The move comes as Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent president of Côte d'Ivoire, refused to concede the presidency after November's election.

Ouattara hopes that the embargo will result in Gbagbo being forced to resign, unable to pay civil servants, including the security forces, due to lost revenue. "We do support President Ouattara's call for a month-long ban on cocoa exports, our embassy is in touch with relevant players on this", said US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley.

US agricultural firm Cargill, which buys around 15% of Ivorian cocoa, have said they are "temporarily suspending" those purchases. "We are working with others in the industry and with the authorities to clarify and resolve the situation as quickly as possible", Cargill stated.

Gbagbo's finance minister, Desire Dalo, denied that the embargo has had any effect on the country's cocoa production. Mars, one of the world's largest confectionery manufacturers, said in a statement that "as a major end-user of Ivorian cocoa we will work with our suppliers in the face of this ban", and that "in the short term this will not impact our ability to manufacture the chocolate products".