The Ivorian president is keen for the US trader, which has been accused of failing to pay its taxes, to put its affairs in order. The US ambassador in Abidjan is keeping a close eye on developments.
Faced with a tax adjustment of over CFA Francs 100bn, the US group, the largest exporter of Ivorian cocoa beans, is trying to negotiate with the Ivorian authorities through the US Chamber of Commerce in Ivory Coast.
The head of the Ivorian cocoa trading lobby and boss of SONEMAT, whose bank accounts were frozen by the Singaporean trader, appears to have friends in high places.
The major foreign traders were the winners in Ivory Coast's main cocoa bean harvest that has just ended. This has heightened tension between the big players such as Cargill and local exporters, who blame foreign competitors for their supply difficulties.
Local cocoa exporters are experiencing significant supply issues and may not manage to honour the contracts that expire when the main 2022-2023 harvest ends this month. Citing lack of action from the cocoa regulatory board, they are asking the president to step in.
Loïc Folloroux, the son of Ivory Coast first lady Dominique Ouattara and owner of Africa Sourcing, has been an effective advocate and a major beneficiary of regulations favouring local players in the country's vital cocoa trade.
The Ivory Coast-Ghana Cocoa Initiative (ICCIG), based in Accra since September 2021 and headed by the experienced Ivorian Alex Assanvo, is struggling to bring multinationals on board. It is also trying to persuade the two regulatory bodies to radically shift their priorities.