ABIDJAN — The world’s two largest cocoa producers, Ivory Coast and Ghana, have created a joint body to improve coordination in research, price setting and the fight against child labor, the Ivorian government said on Thursday.

The two countries, which produce around 60% of the world’s cocoa, have coordinated on some of those issues before, but the new organization marks a formal step towards closer ties.

The Ivory Coast-Ghana Cocoa Initiative (ICCIG) will promote their cocoa industries internationally and defend their collective position in the global market, the Ivorian government said in a statement.

The organization will allow the two countries to formalize an agreement started three years ago whereby they both announce farmgate prices at the start of the growing season on Oct. 1, a measure aimed at reducing smuggling across their shared border.

Last year they raised the guaranteed price they pay cocoa farmers to around $1.50 per kilogram for the 2019/20 main crop harvest.

They also introduced a minimum price floor to address a perceived imbalance between farmers’ incomes and money made by big commodities traders. — Reuters