Abidjan/London — Poor liquidity within Ivory Coast’s banking system, caused by the collapse of the top cocoa producer’s largest domestic exporter, risks hindering exports at the start of the upcoming main crop, exporters and bank officials said. A sharp drop in world prices in the middle of the 2016-17 season left many local exporters, who had speculated prices would rise, unable to execute their contracts and pay back bank loans. Reuters reported in June that Ivorian banks were struggling to secure repayment of about 200-billion CFA francs ($349m) in outstanding loans from the 2016-17 season. And then in July, a court ordered the liquidation of SAF-Cacao, Ivory Coast’s largest domestic exporter, which owed more than 150-billion CFA francs to the banks. Ivory Coast’s marketing board, the Coffee and Cocoa Council (CCC), and SAF’s employees are meant to be the first beneficiaries of the sale of the company’s assets. "It’s 150-billion CFA francs that’s gone up in smoke because the lend...

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