The internationally recognised president of Ivory Coast, Alassane Ouattara, is seeking to impose a month-long ban on cocoa exports.

Cocoa is a significant source of revenue for the administration of incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo.

Traders have predicted the price of cocoa – already up 14% since November’s disputed election – will rise further.

Mr Gbagbo has refused to give up power and it is not clear that the export ban can be enforced.

Ivory Coast is the world’s largest producer of cocoa.

Financial pressure

Analysts say his administration still controls Ivory Coast’s ports, and its main source of funds is tax revenue on cocoa and oil exports.

Mr Ouattara is trying to put more financial pressure on his rival by calling for this ban.

The European Union, US and west African states have already adopted various financial sanctions against Gbagbo and his closest allies.

“We had a meeting with the main cocoa exporters in Ivory Coast and they have agreed to suspend exports for a month,” Malick Tohé, an adviser to Ouattara’s government, was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

This claim could not be independently confirmed.

‘Price jump’

Ivory Coast produces about a third of the world’s cocoa.

Market traders and analysts say they expect the global price of cocoa to increase when trading resumes on Monday because of disruption to the global supply.

The price is already close to its highest level in more than 30 years, having climbed 14% since the election, according to data from the International Cocoa Organisation.

“Traders fear prices could jump as high as 10 per cent when the market opens on Monday,” Ker Chung Yang, an analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore, said in a research note.

Some have questioned whether the ban will be observed or whether it could be enforced.

“The Ouattara administration hasn’t got effective control of anything because they are blockaded in that lagoon hotel and can’t even go outside,” Stephen Smith from Duke University in the United States told the BBC.

Laurent Gbagbo’s administration has said any attempts to deprive it of cash are futile.

Spokesman Ahoua Don Mello told journalists, “Isolation cannot work… Those who think that Ivory Coast will be isolated are those who think that (we) have no choice but to operate with them.”

Source: BBC