Ivory Coast’s Ouattara Wants Sanctions on Exporters

Five cocoa exporters in Ivory Coast should face international sanctions after they defied a call by President-elect Alassane Ouattara to halt shipments for a month, his administration said.

The companies are undertaking “unauthorized operations,” said Guillaume Soro, Ouattara’s prime minister, in an e-mailed statement today. “As a result the companies and their managers will be proposed to the sanctions committees of the United Nations, the European Union and the U.S.”

Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of Ivory Coast’s Nov. 28 presidential election, ordered exporters to suspend shipments of cocoa and coffee until Feb. 23, Soro said earlier this week. The ban was meant to cut off funds to Gbagbo, who refuses to recognize Ouattara’s win after alleging voting fraud in parts of the north.

The list of shippers breaking the ban included Safcacao, Ivory Coast’s largest locally owned cocoa exporter. Ali Lakiss, the company’s director, declined to comment when contacted today.

Buyers are allowed to continue purchasing beans from farmers in the interior of the world’s top grower of the chocolate ingredient, said Patrick Achi, a spokesman for Ouattara’s government, by phone today. “About 80 percent of exporters are respecting the ban,” he added.

Export revenue goes to the National Coffee and Cocoa Management Committee, whose chairman, Gilbert Anoh N’Guessan, is on a list of people facing financial sanctions by the European Union. N’Guessan “is helping to fund the illegitimate government” of Gbagbo, according to the EU.

Cocoa for March delivery rose to the highest in a year, adding $18, or 0.5 percent, to $3,370 per metric ton by 9:48 a.m. in New York. Prices for the beans have soared 22 percent since the November vote on concern about supply disruptions.

Gbagbo’s administration warned that exporters who complied with the ban would “face sanctions,” Ahoua Don Mello, an adviser to the leader, said Jan. 24.

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