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February 21, 2011

Ivory Coast cocoa farmers seek new markets as EU sanctions bite

by Baudelaire Mieu and Olivier Monnier

Cocoa growers in Ivory Coast who support Laurent Gbagbo, a claimant to the presidency, are seeking new buyers in Russia and China as European Union sanctions hinder exports of the chocolate ingredient.

“We are in pursuit of new partners,” said Sansan Kouao, vice president of Conseil National des Sages, a group of cocoa farmers appointed by Gbagbo in 2007. The growers will soon make a trip to the countries “to find markets,” he said during a meeting of the group in Abidjan, the commercial capital, on February 15.

The EU’s trade and travel bans against Gbagbo, his associates and institutions that support him include the main cocoa-exporting ports at Abidjan and San Pedro. Gbagbo refuses to cede power to Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of a Nov. 28 presidential election.

Ouattara called on exporters to halt shipments of cocoa and coffee for one month until Feb. 23. May-delivery cocoa declined $21, or 0.6 percent, to $3,385 per metric ton by 1:53 p.m. on the ICE Futures exchange in New York.

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