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Ivory Coast “The Come-Back Kid”

Once the leading exporter of canned tuna to the European Union, and after having suffered heavily from Asian competition and -not so long ago- from political unrest and instability, Ivory Coast seems to be working hard on a comeback.  The West African nation significantly increased its canned tuna exports last year, when the EU imported its highest volume of canned tuna from the Ivory Coast since 2009.

After dips in 2010 and 2011 of export volumes of canned tuna to the EU, Ivory Coast saw considerable growth in shipments to the region from 2.896,971 cartons 48x 185g net in 2011 to 3.897,917 cartons in 2012, reflecting a strong 34 percent rise. The European Union has been historically the destination for the majority of the Ivory Coast’s canned tuna exports and therefore is crucial to the future of the local processing industry.

This month has seen the approval of a trade deal with an unrestricted volume of EU tuna exports granted to the Ivory Coast due to efforts the country has made to meet the required security and production methods to ensure tuna products were safely brought to the market for consumers. This deal secures the zero duty for exports of canned tuna and pre-cooked loins into the EU, essential for its competitive position.

Early this year, a new tuna fishing deal was signed by the Ivory Coast and the EU, which allows for Spanish and French tuna vessels to fish in the African country’s waters within the Atlantic Ocean. Since the end of June this year, the five-year agreement was put in place and the EU fleet will pay the Ivory Coast USD 908,000 annually in return for a total catch allowance of 6,500 tons per year.

The Ivory Coast Minister of Animal Resources, Kobenan Adjoumani Kouassi, said that the main challenge now was for the Ivory Coast tuna industry to increase domestic production and reduce its imports. Increased focus on tuna production and a stronger relationship with the European Union have the potential to see the Ivory Coast’s tuna exports continue to boom.