Côte d'Ivoire had very rapid economic growth between 1950 and 1975, with fewer problems with the balance of payments than most African countries. Exports increased at a faster rate than the GNP and they remain the main factor contributing to economic growth in the new millennium. Côte d'Ivoire's balance of trade has always been in surplus because of the strength of its exports, which have largely been determined by the level of earnings from sales of coffee and cocoa. In recent years, the surplus has also been boosted by the 1994 devaluation of the CFA franc, affecting both cocoa and timber exports, although increases in export earnings from
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Côte d'Ivoire|
|SOURCE : International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|
logs and sawn wood have been limited owing to the impending exhaustion of the country's forestry resources. Other exports that have responded favorably to the currency adjustment are canned fish, natural rubber, bananas, and other fruits. The CIA World Factbook estimated the country's exports to be US$3.8 billion in 2000.
Despite the government's wish to diversify the direction of trade, the existing pattern reflects Côte d'Ivoire's historical ties with European colonial powers. In 1998, the EU absorbed an estimated 58 percent of all its trade, with France accounting for 21 percent. Trade with African countries is increasing and represented 28 percent of total trade in 1998, and the government is eager to promote closer trade links with the 8-member Francophone Union (UEMOA), of which Côte d'Ivoire is a member. UEMOA countries are in the process of reducing import duties on their goods, and the government hopes that West Africa will provide a market for 50 percent of total exports early in the 21st century. Meanwhile, exports to Asia continue to increase, reaching 15 percent of total exports in 1998. The CIA World Factbook estimated Côte d'Ivoire major export partners to be France (15 percent), United States (8 percent), Netherlands (7 percent), and Germany and Italy (both at 6 percent) in 1999.
Imports are mainly food, manufactured consumer goods , heavy machinery, transport equipment, and fuel. In 2000, the total value of imports was estimated to be US$2.5 billion. Imports are sourced from France (26 percent), Nigeria (10 percent), China (7 percent), Italy (5 percent), and Germany (4 percent).