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May 29, 2011

Guinea-Bissau cashew trade halted in tax protest

by Alberto Dabo

Cashew traders in Guinea Bissau, the world's seventh biggest supplier of the cocktail snack, went on strike on April 21 to protest a new tax.

Cashews are the biggest revenue earner in the tiny 1.6 million people West African state and the industry employs 250,000 families, mostly through small-scale farming operations.

"We cashew exporters have decided to boycott the current marketing season to protest the payment of a 50 CFA franc ($0.11) per kilogram export tax," said Mamadou Yoro Djamanca, the head of the exporters' association. "We will start immediately to shut down all trading posts and warehouses in Bissau and the interior," he said.

The country's leading opposition party warned the government of President Malam Bacai Sanha of large demonstrations if the tax was not lifted.

Guinea Bissau, wedged between Guinea and Senegal on West Africa's coast, is among the world's poorest countries and is struggling to contain a growing drugs trade. ($1=449.3 Cfa Franc)


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