EU envisages 1 billion euros aid to Ivory Coast to meet sustainable cocoa laws

By Ange Aboa

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - The European Union envisages providing around one billion euros over six years to aid Ivory Coast's cocoa sector as it adapts to EU supply chain laws due to be introduced later this year, its envoy in Abidjan said on Friday.

"In the context of our future programming for 2021-2027, the EU is envisaging a Team Europe initiative which could mobilise up to one billion euros to accompany Ivory Coast in the transition towards sustainable cocoa production," EU Ambassador to Ivory Coast Jobst von Kirchmann said in an interview.

Kirchmann did not say when a final decision would be taken.

The European Parliament has been pushing for the 27-nation bloc to introduce laws to prevent the import of commodities and products linked to deforestation and human rights abuses.

If the laws are adopted, buyers would be required to trace their inputs through every step of their supply chains, including starting at the level of small farms.

Companies like Nestle and Danone might have to comply with these requirements as early as 2024.

"The European consumer today wants to consume a product that comes from a sustainable production and that applies to all raw materials and all countries," von Kirchmann said.

Ivory Coast, the world's largest cocoa producer, has begun negotiations with the EU to agree minimum standards for sustainability.

The West African country hopes the EU's laws will help protect forests, curb child labour and end farmer poverty.

Through imports of commodities such as meat, soy, palm oil and cocoa, the EU and its consumers account for over 10% of global deforestation linked to production, according to the European Commission.

(The story corrects headline and paras 1-2 to make clear aid is being envisaged though no final decision yet)

(Writing by Hereward Holland; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)