“The UN has certified Mr Outtara as the winner of the election and consequently companies are obligated to pay their taxes to the properly elected government.”
This is a make-or-break issue for Outtara’s government-to-be. Ivory Coast is the world’s single biggest cocoa producer, accounting for 40% of global supply. So far, it seems, international buyers – including some of the world’s largest chocolate companies – are continuing to purchase cocoa. In so doing, they are paying money straight into the hands of Gbagbo, in Outtara’s words, “financing the illegitimate regime”.
Covington & Burling wouldn’t discuss the detail of the advice they are giving to Outtara, and I understand their work is still at its early stages but this week their client announced a one-month suspension on cocoa exports. The question is, in a country where the livelihoods of around 700,000 farmers rely on cocoa, who else will it starve in the process?