Ivory Coast Economy to Contract 5.8%, Less Than Forecast

Ivory Coast’s economy will contract 5.8 percent this year, less than an earlier forecast, as rising cocoa and gold production eases the impact of a violent political crisis, according to the Finance Ministry.

The economy of the world’s biggest producer of the chocolate ingredient may expand 8.5 percent in 2012, bolstered by reconstruction efforts, according to the document, dated Sept. 2 and obtained by Bloomberg News yesterday.

In June, the Abidjan-based ministry said the economy would contract 6.3 percent because of the crisis that started when ex- President Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power to Alassane Ouattara after he lost an election in November. As many as 3,000 people were killed in the five-month conflict, according to the International Criminal Court, and activities ranging from cocoa exports to gold mining were disrupted.

“The crisis has had serious consequences on the social, humanitarian, security and economic situation,” the ministry said in the document. Next year should bring “economic recovery and social progress.”

Cocoa production in the calendar year will reach 1.34 million metric tons from an earlier forecast of 1.23 million tons, the ministry said. In the harvest period, which started in October, to Aug. 28, deliveries from farms to the ports of Abidjan and San Pedro totaled almost 1.4 million tons, 22 percent higher than the same period a year earlier, according to data from the industry’s regulator.

Gold, Palm Oil

The resumption of production at Randgold Resources Ltd. (GOLD)’s Tongon gold mine, which was halted during the crisis, will help boost output of the metal to 10.1 metric tons this year from the initial forecast of 7 tons, the document showed. Ivory Coast produced 5.1 tons of gold in 2010.

Norbert Kobenan, a communications adviser at the ministry, declined to comment on the forecasts when contacted yesterday.

“The economy appears to recover faster than expected following the political and economic meltdown,” said Samir Gadio, an emerging-markets strategist at Standard Bank Plc. “Because the economy effectively shut down for about three months, we however project growth in private consumption to be negatively affected,” he said in an e-mailed note today.

Coffee output in Africa’s third-biggest grower of the crop is expected to decline 74 percent in 2011 from a year earlier to 24,200 tons after many farmers deserted their plantations during the crisis, the document showed. Palm oil production may fall 17 percent to 320,000 tons and output of bananas may drop 10 percent, to 336,000 tons it added.

Crude-oil production may slump 16 percent to 12.3 million barrels while output of natural rubber may rise to 244,500 tons from 231,500 tons a year earlier, the document showed.

Ivory Coast’s defaulted Eurobonds, due 2032, declined 0.6 percent to 54.16 cents on the dollar, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The damage to the economy caused by the political crisis forced Ivory Coast to miss two interest payments and to ask for a reassessment of the $2.3 billion debt, Finance Minister Charles Koffi Diby said July 12.

To contact the reporters on this story: Olivier Monnier in Abidjan at omonnier@bloomberg.net; Baudelaire Mieu in Abidjan at bmieu@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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