New sales offers from the Ivory Coast for cocoa beans and products such as cocoa butter and powder have come to a virtual stop, several major European physical cocoa traders said on Wednesday.

The export ban is de-facto in force, one physical trader said. The main exporters are complying with the export ban, the only sales offers being made are from small companies.

Cocoa prices have surged since Monday, after Ivory Coast presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara called for a month-long ban on Ivorian cocoa exports to cut funds from his rival for the presidency, incumbent Laurent Gbagbo.

Ouattara's camp warn of sanctions if exporters violate the ban, and five major exporting companies have stopped registrations of beans along with agribusiness giant Cargill , the top exporter of Ivorian cocoa.

It makes no sense to make new sales offers when no one knows if the cocoa can be shipped, another trader said.

Many exporters are attempting to ship what can be shipped legally or are seeking to delay or swop with other origins or take stocks in Europe.