Bolivia's President Evo Morales has assumed the chairmanship of the Group of 77 nations and immediately used his new international platform to say that coca leaf, which can be refined into cocaine, should be removed from the list of internationally banned drugs.

Bolivia was chosen head of the G-77, which actually groups 133 developing nations, and Morales was at the United Nations on Wednesday to take over the chairmanship from outgoing Fiji.

Morales told reporters coca leaf is a harmless traditional stimulant when chewed.

He says "Our next task will be to remove the coca leaf from the list of prohibited substances."