Francesca Di Mauro, the EU's ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire, told Reuters news agency the EU “had some points of concern … especially around child labour, farming on protected forests, and the declassification of existing protected forests.”
Cote d’Ivoire is the world's top cocoa producer and exports approximately 70% of its beans to the EU.
The ambassador advised the Conseil du Café-Cacao, the country’s regulatory body, that it should “not be tempted” to declassify current protected forests where cocoa is produced to make them legal and compliant with the new European regulation.
Di Mauro said that when the regulation enters into force it will affect all cocoa supplies. "So, for those that are currently being purchased, the aim is to make sure they are ready to enter the European territory from January 2025," she told Reuters, adding discussions on how to treat previous stocks were ongoing in Brussels and nothing has been decided.
She confirmed the EU is advising countries on its standard on traceability and certification programme but said the West African country needed to move faster.
The new law will require importers of cocoa and other commodities such as coffee, beef, soy, rubber and palm oil to produce a due diligence statement proving their goods do not contribute to the destruction of forests, or risk hefty fines.
"We have a little over a year to ensure that this system is fully in place because, at the moment, there are pilots being implemented, but the system needs to be fully deployed to ensure traceability, certification, and everything works well," she told Reuters.