Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire are the world’s biggest producers of cocoa but rely heavily on standards and regulations developed by the European Union, a situation which leaves the West African nations vulnerable, says Nico Roozen, Honary President of Solidaridad Network.
The EU is currently developing new standards for the cocoa industry but as the two leading producers, Mr. Roozen holds the view that Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire must not leave their fate in the hands of the EU. He wants the two countries to be proactive in developing their own harmonised standards on child labour and climate change, which they can use in their negotiations with the EU.
“If you can define for yourself a national sustainability standard with a clear path of implementation and continuous improvement of the system, you can share this document with the underlying ambitions with your partners. This will be a good starting point for discussion,” he said.
Mr. Roozen made these comments in Accra during a roundtable discussion on recent cocoa developments in Europe and its implications for sustainable market access, organised by Solidaridad.
Although the developments in the EU market are still at a draft stage, he said what Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire need is a clear analysis of the pros and cons of the proposal to start a dialogue from a self-confident approach to be able to convince the bureaucracy at Brussels.
Doing so, he explained, could mean that even when the EU do come out with their standards and regulations, they would be in sync with those already developed by the two leading producers. He also said this was particularly important because it will provide context and ensure that European standards do not lose touch with what is happening on the ground in producing countries
To him, the best way to go about it is to take cue from the Asian example, particularly the Indonesian and Malaysian palm oil industries, where they have succeeded in developing their local standards which they then use in their negotiations with the European Union.
He further advised that the two work closely with European embassies in developing any cocoa industries.