The U.S. State Department has submitted formal articles of accession to the United Nations to formalize U.S. membership in the International Coffee Organization, according to Dow Jones newswires.

The ICO, set up in 1963 under the auspices of the U.N., is the main intergovernmental organization for coffee, bringing together producing and consuming countries.

In mid-September, the U.S. government announced its intention to rejoin the ICO, and congressional approval of funds for membership followed on Dec. 7. The U.S. government was last an ICO member in 1993.

"Today's State Department action initiates a new chapter in international cooperation and collaboration for the U.S coffee industry," said NCA President and CEO Robert F. Nelson. "With the U.S. at the table, the world of coffee gets larger at the same time it becomes more targeted and effective as a single, unified international industry that can foster sustainable production around the world."

The NCA is the main trade organization for the coffee industry in the U.S
and its members account for nearly 90% of the U.S. market.

The NCA said that for for the last 28 months it, along with U.S. companies, representatives of producing countries and the Specialty Coffee Association of America, has worked with the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Trade Representatives Office, the USDA, US AID and the world coffee industry to explain the benefits of ICO membership for the U.S. coffee industry, producing nations and consumers.

In meetings with the State Department, the NCA said the ICO had been revamped into a market-oriented entity.

Under a 2001 revision of the International Coffee Agreement, from which the ICO derives its mission, there are no economic mandates, such as those for quotas, price controls or market interventionist policies. The NCA's support for renewed U.S. membership in the ICO has hinged on the absence of such economic provisions.

Nelson said that "the NCA looks forward to U.S. contributions to an integrated approach that involves governments and the private sector worldwide and engages the ICO to leverage limited resources to exponentially increase benefits at the producer level."