Negotiations leading to the seventh International Cocoa Agreement (ICCA) got underway in Yaounde, Cameroon in late March. ICCAs are general agreements that are supposed to foster cooperation between producer and consumer countries, encourage sustainable cocoa farming and help producer countries. Over the years, these agreements included market intervention mechanisms such as buffer stocks to smooth out cocoa price fluctuations but since the 1990s, such mechanism have been eliminated in favor of increased information dissemination and reliance on market mechanism.
The 2001 ICCA put emphasis on sustainable cocoa farming and also inaugurated the Consultative Board on the World Cocoa Economy, a body that brought private sector and NGO actors into the discussions.
The negotiations in Yaounde centered on the discussion of a draft agreement submitted by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The draft agreement does not vary significantly from the 2001 ICCA but it includes a few alternate formulations that give the sustainability mandate a little more importance.
Another item was the selection of a new Executive Director for the ICCO. The delegates chose Jean Marc Anga, formerly the director of the Economics and Statistics Division of the ICCO as the Interim Executive Director for two years. Dr. Anga is Ivorian and has worked for the ICCO for some time now. I had the privilege of interviewing him in 2007.