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Price-Setting Power in Global Value Chains: The Cases of Price Stabilisation in the Cocoa Sectors in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana

Cornelia Staritz / Bernhard Tröster / Jan Grumiller / Felix Maile

Juni 2022

This paper calls for integrating price-setting power and related uneven exposure to price risks into the analysis of governance in global value chains (GVCs) as it adds to other power dimensions in producing unequal distributional outcomes. This is shown for the cocoa GVC, in which—unlike in today’s mostly liberalised market structures—the world’s top cocoa-producing countries, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana, pursue price stabilisation measures. These measures address intra-seasonal producer price volatility, and recent collaboration has achieved a living-income differential on top of export prices, but such measures do not shield export and producer prices from inter-seasonal variations in world prices determined on commodity derivatives markets. Based on interviews with actors along the cocoa GVC, we argue that this is related to the price-setting power of ‘grinder-traders’ and the key role of financial hedging and trading on commodity derivatives markets in their business strategies. Financialisation processes have increased derivatives trading’s complexity and short-termism, accelerating consolidation among grinder-traders and making price stabilisation more challenging. Through their price stabilisation systems, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana have maintained some price-setting power in the cocoa GVC, but largely remain ‘global price-takers’, with prices determined on derivatives markets and transmitted along the cocoa GVC through grinder-traders.

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