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Cocoa Industry Calls on U.S Department of Labor to Recognize and Encourage Progress in Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana

Contact: Susan Smith
(202) 534-1440

September 10, 2009

Today, the United States Department of Labor ‘s (DOL) Bureau of International Labor Affairs released its initial list of products from countries it has reason to believe are produced by child or forced labor, as called for under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA) of 2005.

The following is a response from Larry Graham, President of the National Confectioners Association (NCA) on behalf of the global cocoa industry:

Without question, labor practices must be improved on many cocoa farms in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana.  We have strongly supported this effort as an industry for the past eight years, and will continue to do so working in partnership with the governments of Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, as well as with leading international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other key stakeholders including the United States Government.

Among our first actions as an industry was to sign the "Harkin-Engel Protocol" in 2001, affirming our commitment to safe and responsible cocoa farming in West Africa.  Since then, programs focused on improving labor practices, educational opportunities, and rural household incomes, as well as activities that have assisted in building institutional frameworks, have positively benefited children and their families in these countries.

While Industry appreciates DOL's acknowledgment today of the ‘exemplary efforts' of Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana in taking important steps to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, DOL's inclusion of cocoa from Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana sends the wrong message to these two governments.

We believe it's critically important that DOL take greater steps to fully recognize and encourage the progress taking place in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana, including the formation of strong, successful public/private partnerships to improve labor practices and the detailed, transparent reporting of challenges and programs that address this issue.  Many important partnerships delivering positive change on the ground could be jeopardized otherwise - discouraging the very progress the DOL list is designed to promote.

Millions of small farming families in Côte d'Ivoire and Ghana depend upon cocoa for their well-being.   All of us should work together to help these families by encouraging the very programs and progress now underway to achieve our shared goals.

Read Larry Graham's past testimony on this issue before the Department of Labor.

About the National Confectioners Association (NCA): Founded in 1884 in Chicago by representatives of 69 confectionery manufacturing firms, the National Confectioners Association is one of the oldest, most respected trade associations in the world. Today NCA has more than 600 members and is the major association representing the entire confectionery industry, offering education and leadership in manufacturing, technical research, public relations, retailing practices, government relations and statistical analyses. NCA fosters industry growth by advancing and promoting the interests of the confectionery industry, its customers and its consumers.

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