Ouattara may extend ban on Ivory Coast cocoa exports: FT
Alassane Ouattara, internationally recognised as the winner of Ivory Coast's disputed presidential election, says he could extend his one-month ban on cocoa exports, a key driver for the economy.
Ouattara said he would likely trigger the move should rival Laurent Gbagbo fail to leave power by the time his export ban expires on February 23, threatening to send cocoa prices higher.
"If Mr Gbagbo leaves, of course the ban will be removed. But if he stays on, I just think the ban will continue," Ouattara told Monday's Financial Times.
In an attempt to choke off funding for Gbagbo, Ouattara ordered a halt to cocoa exports from Ivory Coast, the world's biggest producer of the commodity.
Ivory Coast has been divided since Gbagbo refused to step down after presidential elections on November 28 that were won by Ouattara according to the country's election commission and the international community.
Ouattara told the Financial Times that despite the ban, exporting companies should continue to stock cocoa beans.
"Cocoa can be stored for a long time. Clearly Mr Gbagbo will be out well before the cocoa starts getting rotten," he said.
Ivory Coast accounts for 40 percent of global cocoa supplies, valued at $4.5 billion (3.3 billion euros) a year at current prices, according to the FT.
Cocoa prices have risen almost 10 percent since Ouattara imposed the ban.
© 2011 AFP