IVORIAN COCOA REFORM DRAWS MIXED RESPONSE

IVORIAN COCOA REFORM DRAWS MIXED RESPONSE

The planned reform of Cote d'Ivoire's cocoa sector has met with a mixed reception from European traders and analysts.

They say although any internal reforms in the world's largest producing country will inevitably influence the world cocoa market, it is difficult to judge at this stage how the proposed changes will work.Last week details began to emerge of the reform of the Ivorian cocoa, coffee and rice sectors after months of talks with the World Bank.

The World Bank called for agricultural reform in exchange for a $150 million agricultural structural loan.

No deal has yet been finalized, and a World Bank official said this week that although there was general agreement, the proposal had not yet been presented to the World Bank board.

''We are at the stage where we have agreed on certain issues about the internal and external marketing of cocoa and coffee," the official said.

''The next stage is to present the credit package to the board . . . We have reached an agreement, but we have to follow it up now and respect the commitment," he added.

Under the expected agreement, the government will reform transport, export taxes and the sales procedure for the cocoa sector.

The Ivorian Caisse de Stabilisation, which is responsible for marketing and sales of cocoa, is expected to be limited to selling only 15 percent of the crop directly. The caisse's 15 percent annual allocation is likely to total between 120,000 and 150,000 metric tons - which includes 50,000 metric tons set aside for a leading US trade house for the next four years.

Under the anticipated agreement, the balance of the crop will be offered to exporters at daily auctions.