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Ivory Coast Table of Contents

Ivory Coast


The debt rescheduling and structural adjustment program negotiated in 1988 afforded Côte d'Ivoire a respite from burdensome debt repayment. Nevertheless, the country's economic future remained cloudy. Timber production, which at other times sustained the economy when coffee and cocoa prices were weak, was manifesting the stark effects of overcutting. Houphouët-Boigny's refusal to cut producer prices for cocoa guaranteed continuing high levels of production and low prices on world markets, because Côte d'Ivoire was the world's leading cocoa producer. To diversify its economy, the country turned to other agricultural products like palm and coconut oils, tropical fruits, sugar, cotton, and rubber. In none of these products, however, did the country have as commanding position as it did with coffee or cocoa. Moreover, the market in tropical oils faced a potentially threat as health-conscious consumers in the United States demanded substitutes thought to be lower in saturated fats than were palm and coconut oils. For many of the other diversification crops, particularly sugar, world supply already surpassed demand, and Côte d'Ivoire would be competing with other Third World tropical countries similarly seeking to diversify economies heretofore dependent on coffee and cocoa. Finally, although the retrenchments mandated by the IMF affected all income groups in Côte d'Ivoire, they most visibly affected the young and poor, giving rise to crime, drug problems, and other manifestations of social dislocation, all of which demanded additional expenditures from the government. In 1987 government revenue losses from customs fraud alone, especially in the textiles sector, were estimated at approximately CFA F200 billion (US$701 million) per year--or about one-third of the national budget. The path out of this downward spiral had yet to be discovered.

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Because of its apparently remarkable performance, especially in comparison to the economies of nearly all other sub-Saharan African countries, the economy of Côte d'Ivoire has a rich bibliography. General reference works like Europa's Africa South of the Sahara, African Contemporary Record, and Encyclopedia of the Third World provide important guidance. Articles and monographs by scholars such as Samir Amin, Bonnie Campbell, Michael A. Cohen, Lawrence R. Alschuler, I. William Zartman, and Y.-A. Fauré provide insightful, relevant, and sometimes highly critical analyses of Ivoirian economic growth. More detailed information has appeared in publications of international development organizations like the World Bank and various agencies of the United Nations. Publications of the government of Côte d'Ivoire and its agencies are also helpful. Several periodicals provide current information, particularly on debt negotiations. These include Africa Research Bulletin, Africa Economic Digest, Bulletin de l'Afrique noire, Marchés tropicaux et méditerranéens, the Economist Intelligence Unit's Country Report, West Africa, and Jeune Afrique. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of November 1988