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July 05, 2010

Cocoa importers, exporters reach new agreement: UNCTAD

Cocoa importing and exporting countries have struck a new international cocoa agreement aimed at improving transparency of markets and encouraging equitable prices, a UN agency said.

The seventh international cocoa agreement is meant to come into force after the current deal expires in October 1, 2012.

Cocoa futures struck the highest level for nearly 33 years in London in early June, at 2,606 pounds a tonne, with poor harvests in West Africa adding to tight supply, according to analysts.

The UN official who chaired the 53 country-talks, Guy-Alain Emmanuel Gauze, said the new deal marked an improvement by bolstering market information on cocoa stocks and improving cooperation with non-governmental groups.

The UN Conference for Trade and Development said in a statement that the agreement would allow the use of data from both private and public sources and recognises "the need to strive towards fair cocoa prices leading to equitable returns for both producers and consumers."

A spokesman for mainly western consumer countries, Ewald Wermuth, said the agreement would have a direct influence on cocoa prices. "We have a common instrument to have a better functioning market," he added.

The new accord is meant to last for 10 years, twice as long as the previous cocoa agreement.

St-Cyr Djikalou of Ivory Coast, a spokesman for producer nations, said the mainly African group welcomed the agreement but added that the bloc "did not obtain everything" it sought, without giving details.

The executive director of the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO), Jan Vingerhoets, stressed that the impact of the agreement would not be felt immediately. However, it would introduce greater certainty in the markets and ultimately bring about more equitable prices, he said.

The ICCO has forecast a global shortfall of 69,000 tonnes for 2009-2010, with output reaching 3.59 million tonnes despite an expected four percent growth in demand.

AFP

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