Ivory Coast Lifts Ecom Cocoa, Coffee Export Ban
Top cocoa grower Ivory Coast has reinstated the export licence of Swiss agricultural trader Ecom Agroindustrial Corp Ltd's local unit, rescinding a ban imposed in a dispute over farmer bonuses, a document from the marketing board showed.
The Coffee and Cocoa Council, CCC, imposed the suspension, which also barred Ecom subsidiary ZAMACOM from participating in cocoa auctions, on Feb. 4.
Several farmer cooperatives had complained to the CCC that ZAMACOM owed them premium payments for certified cocoa produced during the 2012/13 season.
Ecom denied it had failed to make the payments.
Ecom has agreed to take over Armajaro Trading (ATL), the loss-making trading arm of London-based Armajaro Holdings Ltd, though the deal is subject to approval by EU competition authorities. Following the suspension, ATL voiced fears that the dispute risked scuppering the deal.
"The CCC lifts the export suspension on the company ZAMACOM starting from this day," read a note to CCC agents signed by the board's managing director Massandje Toure posted at the cocoa entry point at the port of Abidjan.
A CCC official at the port said the same document had also been posted at Ivory Coast's second port in San Pedro.
The document dated March 28 gave no further explanation of the decision. Both the CCC and ZAMACOM declined requests from Reuters for comment.
CCC officials, who asked not to be named, said the company - believed to have had stocks of 15,000 to 20,000 tonnes of cocoa at the time the export ban was imposed - has exported around 10,000 tonnes of beans since the measure was rescinded.
ZAMACOM exports on average 80,000 tonnes of cocoa beans and 20,000 tonnes of coffee each season.
(Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Joe Bavier, editing by David Evans)