photo: mhaithaca via Flickr

If you’re buying something already on the store shelves in the way of chocolate sweets for your Valentine, your wallet may not suffer. But if you’re buying something chocolate which hasn’t yet been made, you may be paying more and soon now that the Ivory Coast’s newly-elected and internationally recognized president has called for a ban on cocoa exports.

Bloomberg reports:

Alassane Ouattara, the internationally recognized winner of a Nov. 28 election, suspended all cocoa and coffee shipments as of today to cut off funds to incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to stand down. The country’s main exporters agreed to the ban, Malick Tohe, an adviser to Ouattara’s government, said by telephone from Abidjan yesterday.

The ban is for a one-month period and has already boosted cocoa prices on commodity markets by 10%. The prospects for continuing increases in cocoa prices are quite strong since Ivory Coast produces nearly a third of the world’s entire cocoa crop, and uncertainty alone will encourage speculation.  . . .

How long the producers will listen to Alassane Ouattara remains to be seen; if Gbagbo exits the office of the presidency within the month, cocoa growers may be quite happy with a short term halt in sales. But longer than one month may cut into their pockets rather deeply, at a time when confectioners are gearing up for Easter candy production. Ouattara may need to come up with additional methods for increasing pressure on Gbagbo and soon.

It should be noted that Outtara’s ban includes shipment of coffee as well. This will have little impact on coffee pricing as Ivory Coast is not among the top ten producers, and pales in comparison to top producer, Brazil. Total coffee production in Ivory Coast for 2008 was 80,000 metric tons, compared to Brazil’s 2,796,927 metric tons for the same period.



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