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Ivory Coast Cuts 2012 Economic Growth Forecast to 8.1%

March 12 (Bloomberg) -- Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest cocoa producer, lowered its growth forecast for this year to 8.1 percent and said output of the chocolate ingredient will decline, according to a document from the Finance Ministry.

In 2011, the economy contracted 4.7 percent, compared with a September forecast of a 5.8 percent decline, after a bumper cocoa crop and an increase in gold output, according to the document from the Abidjan-based ministry obtained by Bloomberg. The document is yet to be publicly released.

In September, the ministry forecast 2012 growth of 8.5 percent and the new document didn’t give a reason for the lower projection. Sub-Saharan Africa will expand 5.5 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The return to growth comes “with the effective resumption of private and public investment in major infrastructure works” including construction of bridges, roads, schools and health centers, according to the ministry.

A disputed November 2010 presidential election sparked five months of violent conflict that closed banks and halted most exports of cocoa after incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power to Alassane Ouattara.

As many as 3,000 people were killed, according to the Hague-based International Criminal Court, where Gbagbo faces charges of crimes against humanity. He was captured in Abidjan in April and Ouattara was inaugurated the following month.

Cocoa Production

Norbert Kobenan, a technical adviser at the Finance Ministry who acted as an aide to Minister Charles Koffi Diby until the government’s resignation last week, declined to comment when contacted on his mobile phone today.

Production of cocoa will fall to 1.39 million metric tons after reaching an “exceptional level” of 1.56 million tons a year earlier, the ministry said in the document. The decline will be mainly due to a natural “resting period” for cocoa trees, it said.

Gold output is expected to rise 18 percent to 14.6 tons because of production at Randgold Resources Ltd.’s Tongon gold mine in the north of the country, according to the document.

Dwindling reserves in three offshore fields will cause crude-oil production to drop to 9.6 million barrels, the ministry said. Crude output in 2011 was 12.4 million barrels.

Coffee output is expected to jump to 104,600 tons in the year from an estimated 32,300 tons in 2011. Many coffee farmers were unable to harvest the crop last year because of the crisis, according to the ministry.

Palm oil production will climb 23 percent to 483,400 metric tons, the ministry said. Rubber output will increase 11 percent to 264,000 tons, while cashew-nut production will increase 10 percent to 418,000 tons.

Energy production is forecast to rise 8 percent in 2012 while income from taxes and duties will climb 17 percent, the document said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Pauline Bax in Abidjan at; Olivier Monnier in Abidjan at; Baudelaire Mieu in Abidjan at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at

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