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Bloomberg reports that Vanusia Nogueira, who will take over as executive director of the ICO in May, is in talks with Biden’s administration to re-establish the U.S. as an ICO member organisation.

Biden has stated that his administration wants to return to normalisation of trade with many of their international partners in a repudiation to Trump’s strategy, which saw the U.S. becoming more isolated against previous trade allies, such as Europe.

This is an opportunity for the ICO to move on from the departures of Guatemala and Uganda, the latter becoming particularly acrimonious, and look towards a more positive horizon.

Nogueira, whose family have long been involved in coffee, hails from Minas Gerais, a central coffee-growing region in Brazil. She explained to reporters that she’d like more consuming nations to join the group, which she feels will provide a more holistic and balanced representation.

Under a review by Donald Trump’s administration in 2018, the previous agreement was terminated. Nogueira hopes to turn that around following some planned meetings in April.

We want to bring other consumers to ICO,…So it’s important to have an agenda that engages everyone.

It’s perhaps unconventional to see the announcement made before the agreement has been reached, but perhaps verbal commitments were made. It would make sense for the White House to engage and to be seen to engage with organisations that represent essential trade commodities.

For coffee producers, the action is important because of the importance of the U.S. market. In 2019/20, the U.S. consumed 26.7 million 60kg bags of coffee. Unfortunately, when Trump’s office cut ties with the ICO, an important voice in the industry was lost.

Nogueira, currently a Director of the Specialty Coffee Association of America, is the first woman to head the ICO. Suppose she can convince the U.S. to rejoin the organisation. In that case, it will send a strong message to other members that they continue to be relevant and a necessary voice that can serve to the whole industry’s benefit.

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