Côte d’Ivoire cocoa exporter SAF-Cocao has sealed a €25mn pre-export finance deal with British Arab Commercial Bank (BACB).

The 18-month facility is secured on stocks of cocoa, and funds will be used by SAF-Cocao, Côte d’Ivoire’s largest domestic cocoa trader, to purchase cocoa from growers and local co-operatives through the 2015/16 and 2016/17 harvests.

The loan is BACB’s first major transaction in the country, the bank says in a statement.

“We are very pleased to be partnering with SAF-Cacao to bring international finance and employment to the cocoa sector,” says BACB’s chief executive Paul Hartwell. “Côte d’Ivoire is a major player both in the cocoa sector and within Francophone Africa, making it a very important target market for us. This is why we have put down roots in the country.”

He adds that the bank will signpost its presence in the market with an official launch in Abidjan in November.

Commenting on the deal, SAF-Cocao’s managing director Ali Lakiss says: “Access to international financial markets will be critical to our growth in the coming years and will allow us to maintain our position as the largest domestic cocoa trader in Côte d’Ivoire.”

Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s top exporter of cocoa, producing about 30% of the world’s cocoa crop.

The country’s economic growth rate is among the highest in Africa, with GDP growth reaching 8.4% in 2015 and projected at 8.5% in 2016, according to the World Bank.


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