• Overriding principle


    The standard forms of contract set out generally accepted rules, practices and conditions in the international trade in coffee for which the terminology and precise meaning have been standardized under the aegis of leading coffee trade bodies (for Europe the European Coffee Federation (ECF), and for the United States the Green Coffee Association of New York (GCA) *. Both associations publish a number of contracts dealing with different types of transactions. Most coffee is traded using these standard contracts. Others exist (AFNIC/Dutch) but are rarely used.

    All ECF and GCA contracts state expressly that no contract shall be contingent on any other and that each contract is to be settled between buyers and sellers without reference to any other contracts covering the same parcel.

    Although intended to cover string contracts this also means exporters cannot claim inability to ship because someone else, say an interior supplier, let them down. (Traders sometimes buy and sell matching contracts many times, causing a single shipment to pass through a number of hands before reaching an end-user. Such contracts are called string contracts.)

    * The GCA contracts are also available in an electronic or XML (extensible mark-up language) version, together with a price fixing letter, a price fix rolling letter, and a destination declaration letter. The data files are available, free of charge, from the GCA www.green--coffee-assoc.org. For more information on using the XML versions exporters should contact their US buyers or agents.

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