(Corrects Jan. 22 story to show in paragraph 1 that law will be introduced, not ratified, this year)
ABIDJAN, Jan 22 (Reuters) - The European Union on Friday urged Ivory Coast to prepare for stricter cocoa laws the body hopes to introduce later this year which aim to protect forests, curb child labour and end farmer poverty.
In September the EU launched an initiative to improve sustainability in the cocoa industry in collaboration with officials from the world’s top cocoa producers Ivory Coast and Ghana, as well as member states, cocoa growers and civil society.
“The European consumer wants to eat chocolate without having to think about child labour, deforestation or the poverty of those who grow cocoa,” said Jobst von Kirchmann, the EU ambassador to Ivory Coast.
The EU represents the leading destination for Ivorian beans, accounting for 67% of the country’s cocoa exports.
Ivory Coast’s government called for increased support from the EU and other donors to help implement the proposed legislation, including a request for more than €2 billion ($2.44 billion) to fight deforestation.
Ivory Coasts cocoa industry employs nearly one million small farmers, represents 25% of the economy and 40% of export earnings.
“There is therefore a convergence of views and mutual interests between Ivory Coast... and the EU,” said Patrick Achi, secretary general of the Ivorian presidency. ($1 = 0.8214 euros) (Reporting by Hereward Holland, editing by Louise Heavens)
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