Côte d’Ivoire driven by its agricultural exports

The recent clash between the Ivorian and Afghan authorities and cocoa traders almost made us forget the main thing: Ivorian agricultural exports are doing well.

Published on 31 July, provisional statistical data from the Ivorian port authorities confirm a solid increase in the volumes of the main agricultural export products in the first half of 2019. As the largest item in value terms, international sales of cocoa beans increased by 7.1% between 1 October 2018 – the beginning of the 2018/19 season – and the end of June, with a total of 1.41 million tonnes compared with 1.33 million tonnes during the same period last year. Exports of cocoa products (powder, butter, chocolate) increased by 5% to 338,931 tonnes from 323,979 tonnes. The same applies to cotton sales, which increased by 5% to 237,909 tonnes from 226,632 tonnes, while natural rubber exports increased by 11% to 370,220 tonnes from 333,354 tonnes. However, the most significant increase was recorded for coffee exports (robusta and arabusta), which jumped by 40% to 44,285 tonnes from 31,620 tonnes.

Nevertheless, the good performance of agricultural volumes sold internationally is not always synonymous with financial well-being for farmers themselves, as the occasional drop in world prices can sometimes cancel out the benefit of selling increased quantities. The recent downgrading of the outlook for the financial rating of the Ivorian agro-industrial group SIFCA is the best illustration of this: although WARA has maintained the rating of Côte d’Ivoire’s leading private employer at BBB+, it has lowered the rating outlook to stable versus positive previously, mainly due to the low prices of palm oil and rubber, the two main agricultural commodities in the company’s portfolio.