The food industry and cocoa traders have welcomed the EU decision to lift sanctions on the Ivory Coast ports and other Ivorian entities following an end to the crisis in the cocoa growing country.
After four months of growing crisis that threatened to tip Ivory Coast into a civil war, Laurent Gbagbo, who had disputed the November 2010 election results, was arrested last night by forces loyal to the internationally recognized president elect Alassane Ouattara.
There have been no cocoa bean exports from the Ivory Coast since the end of January, following a call from Ouattara for a suspension of all exports, including cocoa and coffee, in a bid to cut off funding Gbagbo following on from disputed elections.
The EU also imposed sanctions in January against trade with the country in a bid to help “secure a rapid transfer of power” to Ouattara, with the result being 475,000 tonnes of cocoa beans piled up in the Ivorian ports of Abidjan and San Pedro, awaiting export
However, as of today, the ports of Abidjan and San Pedro, the Ivorian Refining Company and the Coffee and Cocoa Trade Management Committee have been removed from the list of entities subject to the EU assets freeze, said the EU Council.
Caobisco, the European Cocoa Association and the Federation of Cocoa Commerce, in a joint statement today, said that they are hopeful that with the "legitimate authorities" taking control, a rapid resumption of cocoa trade will follow along with the recovery of the Ivorian economy.
The trade representatives said that a return to “cocoa activities will bring a much needed focus in the lives of the hundreds of thousands of people engaged in the Ivorian cocoa trade.”
And the bodies added that they are “confident that the international community will fully recognise the level of support and rebuilding of the economy and infrastructure that will be needed to facilitate a speedy recovery.”
Meanwhile, Ouattara has called on fighters in Ivory Coast to lay down their arms and promises dignified treatment for Gbagbo.