The European Union on Friday urged the Ivory Coast to prepare for stricter cocoa laws that the body hopes to ratify later this year with the aim of protecting forests, curbing child labour and ending farmer poverty.
In September, the EU launched an initiative to improve sustainability in the cocoa industry in collaboration with officials from the world’s top cocoa producers Ivory Coast and Ghana, as well as member states, cocoa growers and civil society.
“The European consumer wants to eat chocolate without having to think about child labour, deforestation or the poverty of those who grow cocoa,” said Jobst von Kirchmann, the EU ambassador to the Ivory Coast.
The EU represents the leading destination for Ivorian beans, accounting for 67 percent of the country’s cocoa exports.
Ivory Coast’s government called for increased support from the EU and other donors to help implement the proposed legislation, including a request for more than 2 billion euros ($2.43bn) to fight deforestation.
Ivory Coast’s cocoa industry employs nearly one million small farmers – and represents 25 percent of the economy and 40 percent of export earnings.
“There is, therefore, a convergence of views and mutual interests between Ivory Coast … and the EU,” said Patrick Achi, secretary-general of the Ivorian presidency.