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Ivory Coast Has Put Economy Back on Track, IMF’s Lagarde Says

Ivory Coast has put its economy on the “right track” after a political crisis, and posted growth of more than 8.5 percent last year, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said.

The rebound follows a contraction of 4.7 percent in 2011 and is “the result of good policies” implemented after the standoff that followed that year’s presidential election, Lagarde told lawmakers from the West African nation today in Abidjan, the commercial capital. The conflict left more than 3,000 dead and disrupted business and trade.

Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest cocoa producer, has overhauled the industry and improved the business climate by setting up commercial courts, Lagarde said. Public investment is set to increase to 7 percent of gross domestic product this year from 3 percent in 2010, she said.

The West African nation also had $4.4 billion of its debt canceled in June after it completed an economic-reform program backed by the IMF and the World Bank. Last month foreign donors pledged about $8.6 billion, more than double the amount initially sought, for a development plan to create jobs and improve infrastructure.

Challenges the West African nation needs to meet to support growth include investing in education and training, improving access to borrowing and building a more competitive banking system, Lagarde said.

The government is targeting 9 percent growth this year and 10 percent in 2014, and aims to win recognition for Ivory Coast as an emerging country by 2020. That’s “not a hopeless dream but an approach based on concrete policies,” Lagarde said.

For More News and Information: On Ivory Coast’s economy: {TNI IVORY ECO} On Ivory Coast’s cocoa industry: {TNI IVORY COCOA}

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