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Ghana Cocoa Exports Fall as Maersk, Safmarine Halt Shipments

Monthly exports of cocoa from Ghana, the world’s second-biggest grower, have fallen by almost a third since the season started as lines including Safmarine Container Lines NV and A.P. Moller-Maersk S/A halted shipments after a port fee dispute.

Exports have averaged 33,000 metric tons a month down from 90,000 tons last year, Tony Fofie, Ghana Cocoa Board’s chief executive officer, told reporters in the capital Accra today. Shipments have been disrupted for at least two weeks at Safmarine and Maersk. The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority charges a fee to carry cocoa from warehouses to ports and ships.

Safmarine still isn’t moving cocoa from Ghana, Didier Willemse, head of commodity sales at the company, said by phone from Antwerp, Belgium, today. The shipper said on Dec. 9 it hadn’t moved cocoa for the past week.

Maersk wasn’t shipping as of Dec. 19, according to Sonny Dahl, director of West Africa services for Copenhagen-based shipping line. The company hasn’t been moving cocoa since at least Dec. 8, Kenni Simon Skotte, general manager for Europe-West Africa Trade, said in an e-mail on that day.

The Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority charges a fee of about 78 cedis ($47.58) for every 20-foot container to carry cocoa from warehouses into ports and load it on ships, Nester Percy Galley, director-general of the port authority, said Dec. 12. Some shippers have agreed to pay the fee, he said.

The port authority and executives of the Ghana Cocoa Board are meeting today to resolve the shipment dispute, Galley and Fofie said.

Output in Ghana will be 850,000 to 900,000 metric tons this season, down from 1.024 million tons a year earlier, according to Ecobank Transnational Inc., a Lome, Togo-based bank. The cocoa season runs from Oct. 1 to Sept. 30. Ivory Coast is the biggest grower.

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