- Ethiopian government is considering to prosecute six of the country’s largest coffee exporters who withheld coffee beans in their warehouses desregarding a government order for the release of stocks.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said the six exporters could be prosecuted for withholding their beans from the market in response to unfavorable market conditions, saying prosecution of a few big exporters will send a warning signal to other exporters.
“I would not be surprised if some of them were to be taken to court,” Mr Zenawi said in a press conference yesterday in Addis Ababa.
Last month, Ethiopian government shut down warehouses of six largest exporters of coffee and revoked their licenses after failing to adhere to a call to sell all their produce kept in the warehouses.
Ethiopian authorities has issued a warning in March to producers also blaming them for contributing to an already severe foreign exchange shortage in the country.
Prime Minister Meles said exporters were thoroughly warned several months ago from withholding beans from the market, saying their act constituted an attempt to sabotage the national economy.
"The government is not pursuing the case in the hopes that the steps taken against these six companies will be an adequate signal to the rest of the actors in the sector to behave in accordance with the law," Mr Zenawi said.
Producers have reportedly been reluctant to sell their beans through the country's new electronic commodity exchange, which began trading coffee since December last year.
Coffee which is the country’s top foreign exchange earner has experienced a decline estimated at approximately 40 percent since December.
Ethiopia which is Africa's biggest coffee producer, its produce accounted for about 60 percent of the nation's foreign exchange revenue in the 2007 to 2008.
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