In a bid to revive the struggling cocoa industry that amounts to 40% of the world's supply, the Ivory Coast government, advised by British bank HSBC Holdings, plans to introduce a new marketing system in October. The World Bank is sceptical however, that it will work. It is also sceptical of a proposed "price stabilisation" system and its director for West African rural development, Jean-Paul Chausse, commented that of the five proposals put forward recently by HSBC, "there is no option which particularly convinces us."

Cocoa is the largest foreign-exchange earner for the Ivory Coast, a sector liberalised in August 1999 after pressure from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund and now under threat since the two fiscal authorities froze aid to the country amid allegations of corruption.

A team representing the IMF from Washington is due to visit Abidjan, the capital of the Ivory Coast, to discuss the possibilities for a one-year reform program for the country. As yet, no financial aid has been stipulated, but experts expect that if the talks are successful they will pave the way for a new three-year reform program jointly funded by the World Bank and the IMF.