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External Sustainability of Oil-Producing Sub-Saharan African Countries

August 28, 2011 Comments off

External Sustainability of Oil-Producing Sub-Saharan African Countries
Source: International Monetary Fund

In the extensive empirical work carried out across the IMF on oil-producing sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries, the notion of “sustainability” is often directed toward fiscal policies, and, in particular, views on the “optimal” non-oil primary fiscal deficit. The bulk of this work does not, however, address external sustainability, which is a concern especially for those SSA oil producers operating under a fixed exchange rate regime. A couple of recent papers have extended the existing methodologies to assess external sustainability for some oil-producing countries but they do not focus on those in sub-Saharan Africa. In this paper, we bolster this empirical work by providing a range of estimates for the long-run external current external account balance for each of the SSA oil-producing countries, based on three widely used methodologies in the IMF. Our research strategy is to apply these models to the eight countries in the subregion – Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Nigeria, and the Republic of Congo – using similar simplifying assumptions so that we are using the same lens to view how they do and do not differ.

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Country Specific Information: Cote d’Ivoire

June 26, 2011 Comments off

Country Specific Information: Cote d’Ivoire
Source: U.S. Department of State

June 24, 2011

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) is a developing country on the western coast of Africa. The official capital is Yamoussoukro, but Abidjan is the largest city, the main commercial center, and the location of the Ivorian government and the U.S. Embassy. Cote d’Ivoire is a republic whose constitution provides for separate branches of government under a strong president.

State Department Travel Warning — Cote d’Ivoire — June 16, 2011

June 19, 2011 Comments off

State Department Travel Warning — Cote d’Ivoire — June 16, 2011
Source: U.S. Department of State

The Department of State warns U.S. citizens of the risk of travel to Cote d’Ivoire. U.S. citizens who reside in or travel to Cote d’Ivoire should watch conditions carefully, maintain situational awareness, and pay very close attention to their personal security. While the security situation in Abidjan is improving, it could change quickly and without advanced warning. Instances may continue to arise where the best course of action is for citizens to temporarily shelter in place if it is otherwise generally safe to do so. Effective June 15, the Department of State is lifting the Ordered Departure for U.S. government employees and adult family members at the U.S. Embassy in Abidjan. At that time, the embassy will become a partially unaccompanied post, meaning that no minor dependents of U.S. government employees will be permitted to travel to Cote d’Ivoire. Although staff levels at the embassy will return to normal, our ability to assist U.S. citizens in an emergency may be limited in certain circumstances. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning of April 14, 2011 to update U.S. citizens on the current security situation.

Although Abidjan is considerably calmer since the arrest of former President Gbagbo, law and order have yet to return to all of Abidjan’s neighborhoods and some parts of the countryside. Police and military are limited in their capacity to respond to requests for assistance and are not yet able to reestablish authority at pre-crisis levels.

If you are planning travel to Cote d’Ivoire, particularly to destinations outside of Abidjan, you should consult the Embassy or your host organization(s) for the most recent security assessment of the areas where you plan to travel. Crimes such as mugging, robbery, burglary, and carjacking pose risks for foreign visitors in Abidjan. You should be careful when stopped in heavy traffic or at roadblocks due to the threat of assault and/or robbery, and you should avoid travel outside of the city after dark. Land routes to neighboring countries are open, but be cautious and alert when traveling these routes.

Feeling The Elephant’s Weight: The Impact of Côte d’Ivoire’s Crisis on WAEMU Trade

May 25, 2011 Comments off

Feeling The Elephant’s Weight: The Impact of Côte d’Ivoire’s Crisis on WAEMU Trade
Source: International Monetary Fund

This paper analyzes the impact of political instability in Côte d’Ivoire on WAEMU trade over 1990-2007, applying panel econometric techniques to a gravity model of trade within WAEMU and between WAEMU and the rest of the world. The paper finds that intra-regional trade represents a small share of total WAEMU trade and that Côte d’Ivoire accounts for around half of that total, highlighting the importance of this country for the region. The political instability in Côte d’Ivoire has led to an increase in transaction costs, making it relatively more costly for member countries to trade with each other than with the rest of world. Instability has also resulted in a diversion of trade away from Côte d’Ivoire in favor of other countries equipped with ports and in a reduction of WAEMU overall potential trade. For Côte d’Ivoire alone, lost trade is estimated at around 40 percent of its potential trade with the WAEMU in the absence of instability. With a normalization in Côte d’Ivoire, enhanced security and further integration would be essential to achieve higher levels of trade and growth in the WAEMU region.

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CRS — Côte d’Ivoire’s Post-Election Crisis

April 14, 2011 Comments off

Côte d’Ivoire’s Post-Election Crisis (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via OpenCRS)

Cote d’Ivoire has entered a renewed period of extreme political instability, accompanied by significant political violence, following a contested presidential election designed to cap an often forestalled peace process. The election was held under the terms of the 2007 Ouagadougou Political Agreement, the most recent in a series of partially implemented peace accords aimed at reunifying Cote d’Ivoire, which has remained largely divided between a government-controlled southern region and a rebel-controlled zone in the north since the outbreak of a civil war in 2002. A sharp uptick in armed clashes in late February 2011, among other indicators, signaled a heightened risk that a renewed war might break out.

This instability directly threatens long-standing U.S. and international efforts to support a transition to peace, political stability, and democratic governance in Cote d’Ivoire, among other U.S. objectives. Indirectly at stake are broader, long-term U.S. efforts to ensure regional stability, peace, democratic and accountable governance, and economic growth in West Africa, along with billions of dollars of U.S. foreign aid to achieve these ends. The United States has supported the Ivoirian peace process since the 2002 war, both diplomatically and financially, with funding appropriated by Congress. It supports the ongoing U.N. Operation in Cote d’Ivoire (UNOCI); funded a UNOCI predecessor, the U.N. Mission in Cote d’Ivoire; and assisted in the deployment in 2003 of a now defunct Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) military intervention force. The 112th Congress may be asked to consider additional funding for UNOCI; U.S. support for a potential ECOWAS military intervention force; or funding for emergency humanitarian aid in response to the deteriorating political-military situation.

On November 28, 2010, a presidential election runoff vote was held between the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, and former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara, the two leading winners of a first-round poll a month earlier. Both claim to have won the runoff and separately inaugurated themselves as president and formed rival governments. Ouattara bases his victory claim on the U.N.-certified runoff results announced by the Ivoirian Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). These show that he won the election with a 54.1% share of votes, against 45.9% for Gbagbo. The international community, including the United States, endorsed the IEC- announced poll results as legitimate and demanded that Gbagbo cede the presidency to Ouattara. H.Res. 85 (Payne), introduced on February 10, 2011, voices support for these positions. Gbagbo, rejecting the IEC decision, appealed it to the Ivoirian Constitutional Council, which reviewed and annulled it and proclaimed Gbagbo president, with 51.5% of votes against 48.6% for Ouattara. Gbagbo therefore claims to have been duly elected and refuses to hand power over to Ouattara.

The electoral standoff has caused a sharp rise in political tension and violence, deaths and human rights abuses, and spurred attacks on U.N. peacekeepers. The international community has broadly rejected Gbagbo’s victory claim and endorsed Ouattara as the legally elected president. It is using diplomatic and financial efforts, sanctions, and a military intervention threat to pressure Gbagbo to step aside. H.Res. 85 would express congressional support for such ends. Top U.S officials have attempted to directly pressure Gbagbo to step down. An existing U.S. ban on bilateral aid was augmented with visa restrictions and financial sanctions targeting the Gbagbo administration. As of early 2011, regional mediation had produced few results. Continued political volatility was likely under most current scenarios, and there was a growing risk of war. A unity government might temporarily reduce political tension, but would likely not resolve the root causes of the crisis. If the political crisis is resolved, however, Cote d’Ivoire is well-placed to recover economically.

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