Ivory Coast Inflation Rate Rose to 3.4% in December

Inflation in Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest cocoa producer, accelerated to 3.4 percent in December as the post-war recovery drove demand for goods including food and clothes.

The rate rose from 3 percent in November, the Abidjan-based National Institute of Statistics said in an e-mailed statement today. Prices increased 1 percent in the month. Food and soft-drinks costs climbed 5.5 percent in December from a year earlier while housing and utilities were 3.3 percent higher, according to the institute.

Ivory Coast, the biggest economy in the eight-member West African monetary union, is recovering a five-month crisis sparked by a disputed president election in November 2010. Cocoa and coffee exports halted and banks and businesses closed during the standoff that left at least 3,000 people dead.

After contracting 4.7 percent in 2011, the Ivorian economy grew more than 8.5 percent in 2012, Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, said in Abidjan on Jan. 7. The government is targeting 9 percent growth this year and 10 percent in 2014.

The expansion, along with recent increases in prices for fuel, will probably continue putting pressure on inflation this year, Souleymane Ouattara, an Abidjan-based economist, said in an e-mailed note.

“If Ivory Coast holds its promises of two-digit growth, it will be difficult to maintain such a level of prices,” he said. The December rise was modest “compared with the expected boom of the Ivorian economy.”

Tax cuts on imported consumer goods including rice, and monetary policy controled by the Dakar-based regional central bank, helped keep prices under control, Ouattara said.

The Central Bank of West African States kept its key lending rates unchanged for a second time in December as growth in region accelerated.

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