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Vol 44 No 3

Published 7th February 2003

Rebel forces, market forces

Côte d'Ivoire's civil war may have boosted cocoa prices but it has also closed the processing plants

Alongside Côte d'Ivoire's horrific descent into civil war has been the almost equally devastating economic fall out and its effects on lives and jobs. Several major factories have already closed and more are due to. Local processing of the country's raw materials did not just add value, it gave the country some control over the vagaries of the market. Now, foreign businesses are pulling out, returning the country to its pre-industrial past and finally erasing the hard-won gains since devaluation of the CFA franc in 1994. Cocoa processing plants run by trading giants such as Swiss Barry Callebaut and Archer Daniels Midland of the United States are closing. Foreign-owned cocoa firms in the western port of San Pedro are transferring expatriate staff to Ghana and difficulties in securing supplies of cotton across the ceasefire line have led to the closure of the Uniwax factory in Abidjan, part of Anglo-Dutch Unilever, with the loss of 750 jobs.

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