Stricter controls cause cocoa bottleneck in Ivory Coast ports - CNBC Africa

Stricter controls cause cocoa bottleneck in Ivory Coast ports

Western Africa

by Reuters 0

Ivory Coast is the world’s biggest cocoa producer. PHOTO: Optimal Reset

This is creating a bottleneck that is saddling exporters with additional costs.

Around 150,000 tonnes of beans and semi-finished cocoa products have piled up in warehouses in Abidjan and San Pedro, several employees with exporters in the two port cities told Reuters.

Ivory Coast is the world’s biggest cocoa producer.

(READ MORE: Harmattan winds threaten West Africa’s cocoa light-crop output)

“All the export warehouses at the ports are full of cocoa,” one exporter based in San Pedro told Reuters. “There are around 100,000 tonnes in San Pedro alone and the cocoa is continuing to arrive.”

Another purchases manager with a firm in Abidjan said that while cocoa shipments are going out daily, companies have been unable to clear a backlog created when authorities introduced tighter controls at the start of the season in October.

In previous seasons, cocoa delivered from plantations typically waited at port warehouses between five and seven days for inspections and paperwork. That wait has now increased to between 10 and 15 days, exporters say.

They blame measures put in place this season to combat fraud by transit companies, which are meant to pay taxes and customs fees on behalf of exporters but, according to authorities, often fail to do so.

Exporters said officials in the ports now wait for cheques to clear before issuing shipment certificates.

“There have indeed been some small problems, but the exporters are exaggerating. It’s two or three additional days. But we’re working to sort this out quickly,” a customs official at the port of Abidjan told Reuters.

(READ MORE: Ivory Coast on quest to become West Africa’s rice bowl)

A number of exporters said the delays have disrupted their shipping cycles, causing them to miss loading windows for vessels and forcing them to pay penalties.

Warehousing costs are also accumulating.

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