Ivory Coast cocoa ban stays until March 31: Ouattara

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Ivory Coast’s presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara will extend a ban on cocoa exports from the world’s top grower until March 31,says a statement from his government.

The ban, combined with European Union sanctions, aims to starve incumbent Laurent Gbagbo’s administration of funds and together they have wreaked havoc on the cocoa industry by slowing port arrivals to a trickle.
“The Prime Minister Guillaume Soro informs traders in the cocoa sector that the measure to suspend exports of coffee and cocoa is prolonged until March 31,” the statement from Ouattara’s government said, reports Reuters.
“The government reminds the coffee and cocoa sector that contravening this measure will expose them to national and international sanctions.”

Ouattara beat Gbagbo in a November 28 presidential election, according to U.N.-certified results, but Gbagbo has refused to go, defying international condemnation and Western sanctions.

Ouattara has warned exporters that, assuming he comes to power, they would be sanctioned if they cooperated with Gbagbo’s government by paying export taxes to ship their beans.

Meanwhile, Gbagbo’s side has threatened them with sanctions if they don’t. He issued a decree last week that the industry is to be nationalised, which diplomats say see as a desperate attempt to find money to pay civil servants and troops as the economy goes into meltdown.

His cocoa authority warned them last week that they had until the end of March to ship beans they have in stock and pay the appropriate taxes or risk seizure of their stocks, which cocoa authorities estimate at 475,000 tonnes.
“The government (of Ouattara) makes clear to traders … that the illegal decree taken by Laurent Gbagbo’s clan to give the state exclusive control of stocks of coffee and cocoa is null and void,” the statement said.



Exporters face the added dilemma of European Union sanctions on a number of Ivorian institutions backing Gbagbo and the combined measures have contributed to the drying up of exports.