Cocoa industry has 'increasing concern' for I. Coast unrest

15th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Leading organisations involved in the global cocoa industry issued a joint statement Tuesday, expressing their "increasing concern" over the violence in Ivory Coast, the world's biggest cocoa producer.

The European Cocoa Association and confectionery grouping Caobisco, both based in Brussels, and the Federation of Cocoa Commerce in Britain said they "deeply regret" that a solution to the country's unrest had not been reached.

"Caobisco, ECA and FCC members witness with increasing concern further deterioration of the situation in Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast), and fully share in the despair of the Ivorian population," they said in a joint statement.

"We deeply regret that a political solution has not been found yet, and we continue to commend efforts for a speedy restoration of peace."

The trio said: As previously reported, our members' operations in Cote d'Ivoire in terms of procurement and processing of cocoa are severely hindered, while exports of cocoa have come to a standstill."

They added: Despite these difficult circumstances, the members of Caobisco, ECA & FCC remain committed to the millions of people in cocoa farming communities whose livelihoods depend on cocoa."

The statement came as troops loyal to Ivory Coast strongman Laurent Gbagbo were holding key positions in Abidjan after repulsing forces of his rival for the presidency in a key battle for control of the country's economic capital.

Pro-Gbagbo forces held on to strategic military barracks in the northern suburb of Adjame on Tuesday after the heaviest day of fighting since a disputed November election plunged the country into violence.

Forces backing internationally recognised president Alassane Ouattara met fierce resistance as they attempted to move south through the city from their powerbase in the northern suburbs in the direction of central Abidjan.

Violence has escalated in Abidjan in the once booming west African country where at least 400 have been killed since the disputed election, according to the United Nations.

Gbagbo is refusing to cede power to Ouattara, and mediation efforts have so far failed to budge the outgoing president who last week rejected an African Union endorsement of his rival's presidency.

Meanwhile Ouattara's appeal for a halt to cocoa exports, which holds good until March 31, has mainly been respected by the major dealers and chocolate companies. The move has been accompanied by a European Union embargo on Ivorian ports.

© 2011 AFP

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