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IMF Wants Ivory Coast to Resolve Cocoa Problems Before Harvest

The International Monetary Fund urged Ivory Coast to complete cocoa-industry changes and address shippers’ concerns about supplies of the chocolate ingredient before the Oct. 1 start of the main harvest season.

A dispute over refundable transportation and handling fees is yet to be resolved and exporters are worried about actual bean supplies, Wayne Camard, the IMF’s country representative, said in an interview in the commercial capital, Abidjan, yesterday.

Exporters “have no guarantee that the beans stocks they’ve bought in the electronic auction system will be delivered,” Camard said. “They’ve expressed several concerns to us.”

Ivory Coast, the world’s top cocoa grower, concentrated oversight of the industry in a single organization, the Coffee and Cocoa Council, as part of extensive industry reforms that were set as a condition by the World Bank and the IMF to qualify for debt relief. In June, the lenders wrote off $4.4 billion of the country’s debt.

In January, the council introduced a forward-selling system. So far, 1.1 million metric tons of the 2012-13 crop has been sold, according to an industry official who declined to be identified because the information hasn’t been publicly released. The auctions will continue until the season begins next month, the official said.

Cocoa Gains

Talks between cocoa exporters and the government about transportation and handling costs, which are calculated into the advance buying price, have not yet resulted in an agreement, Camard said. Agriculture Minister Mamadou Sangafowa Coulibaly said earlier this year an agreement would be reached before Sept. 15.

“We’ve spoken with the government,” Camard said. “We’re hoping that all these problems will be resolved before the start of the season.”

Government spokesman Bruno Kone said the season will start in a few days. “Everything is falling into place slowly but surely,” he said yesterday.

December-delivery cocoa rose 0.6 percent to 1,642 pounds ($2,663) a ton by 6:40 p.m. yesterday in London on the NYSE Liffe exchange.

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