Using Cocoa to Oust a President

The Ivory Coast announced this week that it has suspended cocoa and coffee shipments for the next month.  The ban is intended to prevent incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo from receiving revenue from the exportation of cocoa beans.  Gbagbo lost the Ivory Coast’s November presidential election to Alassane Ouattara, but has refused to relinquish his power.  Most of the international community, including both the United Nations and the U.S., recognize Ouattara as the winner of the elections and have backed the Ivory Coast’s export ban.  The Ivory Coast is considered the largest producer of cocoa beans and accounts for approximately one third of total global production.  Do you think the export ban will successfully prevent Gbagbo from receiving money?  Will it be enough to force him out of office?  What will the export ban mean for chocolate producers in the rest of the world who rely on the Ivory Coast’s cocoa beans?



  1. I think that the ban could potentially cause a drastic reduction in the amount of revenue coming from cocoa exportation forcing Gbago out of office IF everyone follows it. As of today, the largest bulk producer of chocolate, Barry Callebaut, was still avoiding complying with the ban. However, there are still those that have complied with the ban, including another major cocoa company, Cargill. So far the ban has caused the price of cocoa to increase 17%. Thankfully for chocolate lovers, Swiss chocolate makers only get 4% of their total cocoa beans from the Ivory Coast, so a month long ban will not likely do much damage to the delicious chocolate making!

  2. It is often said that the best way to compel behavior is through ones wallet. The ban will hopefully effect Gbago’s ability to stay in power by limiting his resources. The Ivory Coast is the world’s largest cocoa producer and produces 30% of the worlds chocolate. Philp Crowley, a United States State Department spokesman, affirmed United States support for the ban on cocoa exports. He said that, “It is part of our strategy to deny Laurent Gbago the resources … and we hope this will convince him to step aside.”

    However, there are some people that do not believe that this was the best strategy to get Gbago to stand down. Some have argued that the ban puts the cocoa industry in a very difficult and delicate situation. Many in the industry are lobbying to make the ban less strict. In addition, some players in the industry have felt that this was an unexpected decision and could have been handled differently.

  3. For someone who is so unwilling to let go of power like Gbagbo, I doubt that this would be enough to convince him to leave peacefully. Power makes people do crazy things, especially when someone is threatening to take it away from them. I’m sure he could find other ways to get money to support his position. Also, it is important to think about how this could be negatively affecting the cocoa farmers. While in the grand scheme of things, it may seem like a good idea to do this to get to Gbagbo, what are the farmers supposed to do for a month while they can’t sell their product? I think this has the potential to cause more problems than it will solve.

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