The suggestions were put forward by industry experts during a review of the International Cocoa Agreement, 2001, which recognises 17 countries as producers of either exclusively or partially fine or flavour cocoa. The aim of this agreement is to promote international cooperation in the world economy, to provide an appropriate framework for discussing related issues, and to contribute to strengthening the national cocoa economies of member countries. Last month, an Ad hoc panel of experts on fine or flavour cocoa met in London to draw new conclusions on those countries exporting cocoa. The most important recommendations made by the panel were:
For the first time, the Dominican Republic was recognised as a fine or flavour cocoa producing country, with a recommended share of 40 per cent of exports.
Following a decrease to 25 per cent in 2005, Papua New Guinea's share was reinstated to 75 per cent of fine and flavour cocoa exports. This is the same level it was at in 1993.
Ecuador maintained its 74 per cent share of fine or flavour cocoa exports.
Trinidad and Tobago maintained its 100 per cent share.
The International Cocoa Council will decide on the recommendations at its 77th regular session in May. According to the International Cocoa Organisation (ICCO), the share of fine or flavour cocoa in the total world production of cocoa beans is just under 5 per cent per annum. Virtually all major activity over the past five decades has involved bulk cocoa. Overall cocoa futures prices experienced a strong increase during 2007, reaching levels 19 per cent higher in London and 23 per cent higher in New York at the end of the year compared to a year earlier. ICCO said the prices were influenced mainly by the small volumes produced by the 2007 mid crops in West Africa; the relatively strong demand for cocoa; the level of forward fixed priced coverage of cocoa processors and chocolate manufacturers; and the increased interest of investment funds in the cocoa market. In the first half of 2008, most of these factors are expected to prevail. The main difference may be related to the production level of cocoa, expected to be significantly higher, said ICCO.