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Ghana and Ivory Coast lift threat to suspend cocoa supplies

In what they called a 'historic' move, the two West African neighbours on 12 June vowed to suspend the sale of their 2020/2021 production to buyers unwilling to meet a minimum price of $2,600 per tonne, a move that shook the cocoa market.

Women sort cocoa beans at a cocoa exporter's in Abidjan, Ghana on 3 July 2019. Picture: AFP

ABIDJAN - Ivory Coast and Ghana, the world's two largest cocoa producers, have ended a threat to stop selling their production in what was a push for higher prices.

In what they called a "historic" move, the two West African neighbours on 12 June vowed to suspend the sale of their 2020/2021 production to buyers unwilling to meet a minimum price of $2,600 per tonne, a move that shook the cocoa market.

The two African nations - which together account for 60% of the world's production - are campaigning to end a situation where cocoa producers make only $6 billion in a global chocolate market worth around $100 billion.

"The two countries decided to lift the suspension of sales of the 2020/2021 crop from today July 16," the chief of Ivory Coast's coffee and cocoa council, Yves Kone-Brahima, and Joseph Boahen Aidoo, chief executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board, said in a joint statement Tuesday.

At a meeting in Ivory Coast's commercial capital Abidjan on 3 July, the two countries introduced a so-called Living Income Differential of $400 per tonne.

The differential would kick in for export contracts for the 2020/2021 crop if market prices fell below $2,600 a tonne.

A World Bank report released last week said Ivory Coast, the world's largest producer, earns just a fraction of the crop's potential value, and that 55% of cocoa producers live on about 757 CFA francs ($1.3 / 1.15 euros) a day, which is below the poverty line.

Cocoa accounts for 40% of the nation's exports but the country only earns about 8% of total profits in the cocoa-chocolate sector.

Almost 80% of the sector's profits are concentrated in the processing of chocolate paste and in the distribution of finished products to consumers, "two phases in which Ivory Coast does not yet play a major role", the report said.