The Head of Mission of the European Union (EU) to Ghana, Ambassador Diana Acconcia, has dispelled reports that the bloc is threatening to ban cocoa from the country due to illegal mining and child labour concerns.

According to her, the EU is developing legislation that will impose obligations on its companies to purchase products that are produced sustainably across the value chain as a way to ensure the methods used in production protect the environment and to also ensure farmers benefit economically, hence, it is not targeted at Ghana.

“In the European Union, sustainability has become a priority. European consumers want to know what they are consuming. The idea is that they want to know that the value chain of products they are consuming in Europe do not contain unstainable elements. It is accelerating now particularly because of the European green deal.

The priority of this European administration is to have a climate neutral continent by 2050, and we cannot only look at what happens in Europe; we have to also look at what happens outside. But there is another element which is the economic sustainability. Everybody knows that cocoa farmers are getting too little of the cake and we know this is not a sustainable situation.

The other element is a legislation that is being drafted in Europe. One of them is specific on deforestation and the other one is on due diligence on companies. The due diligence is to impose obligation on companies to be able to report on their supply chains. And the other one on deforestation is trying to define the responsibilities that should be implemented by suppliers,” she said in an interview with the B&FT.

Ambassador Acconcia further stated that the EU is partnering government, through COCOBOD, to ensure that the country adheres to all sustainability protocols across the value chain so that trade between the two can continue smoothly, especially, as the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA) has come into effect since July 1, 2021.

“The [EU] industry is concerned that if those measures are not taken, people will shun cocoa products and that will be a big problem. So, the industry has created an alliance with NGOs, both international and local, to welcome sustainability on cocoa.

I honestly do not think there is any sort of tension [regarding cocoa] between Ghana and the EU. It is an issue that creates strong feelings, and yes, we do not agree on everything, but we are sitting on the same table and there is great interest on both sides to collaborate.

EU is not threatening to boycott Ghana cocoa… We are rather trying to prepare Ghana and Ivory coast to comply with these conditions. This is an opportunity because the countries that have dialogued with us or have engaged us in this sustainability process are going to get the advantage of trading with the European market. So it an opportunity to strengthen our trade. There is no threat, there is a process,” she said.

Currently, Ghana exports nearly 80 percent of its cocoa to the European market. The coming into force of the iEPA makes it imperative for government and COCOBOD to take all the necessary measures to ensure the cocoa value chain meets the sustainability protocols outlined by the EU, as failure to do that will result in a win-lose situation for Ghana.

Source: B&FT