According to the Washington Post, the US Congress is considering banning cocoa imports from Côte d’Ivoire, the world’s largest producer and exporter of brown gold.
Already concerned about the question of the floor price of beans, the Ivorian cocoa sector may soon have a new cause for concern. According to the American capital’s daily newspaper, in its August 7 edition, a draft embargo on Ivorian cocoa was reportedly formulated last month by two senators, on the grounds that its harvest in the West African country depends largely on forced child labour. To justify their request, the two men, whose names have not (so far) been disclosed, allegedly cited « damning evidence », arguing that, as a result, Ivorian cocoa should be prohibited from reaching the US market. In practice, if approved, this measure would allow customs officials to block products from Côte d’Ivoire if they « reasonably[suggest] that they are produced with the forced labour of a child ».
Informed of this potential threat, the Ivorian authorities, which are also struggling to eradicate child labour in the cocoa supply chain, were quick to react. According to our colleagues at the Washington Post, Ivorian First Lady Dominique Ouattara convened a meeting this week in Abidjan with nine Capitol Hill staff members and Democratic representative Dwight Evans to present her own counter-arguments.
« I think[the proposed ban] would punish an entire country and farmers struggling for their survival, and would be unfair to the work we do, » the wife of the Ivorian head of state said at the meeting, according to sources quoted by the American media. A plea that must now be heard in Washington.