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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: A co-worker of mine brought a giant chocolate bar in to work today. It was a pretty pricey piece of candy. But what’s happening in the Ivory Coast could make that chocolate bar even more expensive. Ivory Coast is the world’s biggest producer of cocoa, the key ingredient for chocolate. And a two-month old election stalemate has one presidential contender calling for a month long ban on the overseas sale of cocoa.
The BBC’s John James is with us now from Abidjan, which is the Ivory Coast’s commercial capital. Hi John.
JOHN JAMES: Hi Steve.
CHIOTAKIS: A cocoa ban from one of the biggest cocoa sellers? I mean is this going to raise the price of my chocolate here in the United States?
JAMES: Well, there’s probably a good chance that it might actually. I mean, generally cocoa prices have been high for the last two years. And this announcement has raised the price of cocoa on the markets by about 5 percent. So we’re already at year-long highs. Certainly cocoa is getting more expensive and that of course is a key ingredient in chocolate.
CHIOTAKIS: Why is cocoa being used as a political weapon, and how effective is that ban going to be?
JAMES: Well we’ll have to see the impact. I mean, cocoa is the major export here in Ivory Coast. This produces around a third of world supply. It’s a key means really for Laurent Gbagbo to carry on in power. He’s the President who, according to most of the world, lost the elections in November. But he’s still determined into carry on, and getting money from cocoa sales is probably one of the keys ways that he can carry on paying salaries and being in government. So it seen as a way to sort of strangulate his financial control, and just make it more difficult for him to carry on, and possibly force him to accept the democracy election Alassane Ouattara in the eyes of the most of the world.
CHIOTAKIS: Alright, the BBC’s John James in Abidjan, John thank you.
JAMES: Thank you.
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