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Cocoa prices edge to 32-year high

Cocoa prices nudged 32-year highs over $3,714 a tonne yesterday after Laurent Gbagbo, the incumbent president, decreed that the state would become the sole purchaser of cocoa in the world's top grower and handle its export.

Prices have soared since Alassane Ouattara, who the UN judged won November's presidential election, called for an embargo after Mr Gbagbo refused to relinquish power.

The mechanics of how the state would get the cocoa beans to world markets were not clear. EU ships are banned from Ivorian ports, and most major suppliers have suspended Ivorian exports. The squeeze has meant 475,000 tonnes – over a third of annual output – of unexported cocoa beans are sitting at Ivorian docks.