* Cargill was re-evaluating after incentives abolished
* Ivory Coast wants to increase domestic cocoa processing
ABIDJAN Feb 6 Cargill has no plans
to reduce its cocoa processing operations in Ivory Coast, citing
progress in talks with the government over abolished tax breaks
for grinders and increased export levies, company officials
The company had said those decisions, taken late last year,
would force it to re-evaluate its operations in the world's
biggest cocoa grower.
However, following a meeting with the country's prime
minister and minister of industry, Cargill officials said there
were no plans to reduce the amount of cocoa processed in Ivory
Coast or move its grinding operations elsewhere.
"It's not being discussed," said Paul Naar, president of
Cargill Europe, late on Tuesday.
Cargill is among the world's leading processors of cocoa and
operates facilities in Ivory Coast with a capacity to grind
120,000 tonnes of beans annually.
"The dialogue is ongoing... We're satisfied with the
process. Our engagement in Ivory Coast remains the same," said
Cargill's Ivory Coast director Lionel Soulard, who also attended
Ivory Coast scrapped a 20-year-old tax break for the 2012/13
season that had been given to grinders to encourage more
domestic processing of beans.
And in November it decided to levy an export tax on
semi-finished cocoa products based on their equivalent weight in
beans rather than the nature of the product, essentially raising
the export tax on most products by 25 percent.
That led several exporters with local grinding facilities to
reconsider whether it was still profitable to process cocoa in
Exporters including Cargill, Barry Callebaut, CEMOI
and ADM all have grinding operations based in Abidjan or Ivory
Coast's second port city of San Pedro.
In 2010, Ivory Coast became the world's top cocoa grinder
with a capacity of 532,000 tonnes of beans, turned mainly into
cocoa butter and powder.
As part of a sweeping reform of the cocoa sector implemented
this season, the government is aiming to locally grind half of
its cocoa bean production by 2015.
"We're at around 30 percent. It must be much higher. I think
this is one of the objectives of (President Alassane Ouattara),"
said Industry Minister Jean Claude Brou.
"We're speaking with all of the grinders, including Cargill,
in an atmosphere of trust. I think that things are going well,"