France and Côte d’Ivoire/B_descRubAff1>
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The legacy of decolonization formed the basis for extensive political relations leading to exchanges at many different levels (43rd Marine Infantry Battalion (BIMA) in Abidjan, dissolved in June 2009; defence agreements; extensive civilian cooperation).
France intervened in Côte d’Ivoire after the attempted coup on 19 September 2002 in order to protect its nationals. France’s role very soon became one of intervention between the armed forces of the Ivorian government and the rebels. The international community, and in particular the United Nations, supported the crisis-exit process defined by the Linas-Marcoussis Agreement (January 2003) on France’s initiative, while the Security Council mandated the Force Licorne to support the United Nations Operation in Côte d’Ivoire (UNOCI).
After the election of October 2010, in line with the position of the United Nations, African organizations and the international community, France acknowledged Mr Ouattara as the legitimate president of Côte d’Ivoire and called on Laurent Gbagbo to hand over power peacefully. It supported the diplomatic efforts of the international community and mediation by the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). In accordance with Security Council resolution 1975, it intervened, on the request of the UN Secretary-General to the President of the French Republic, to help the UNOCI forces neutralize the heavy weapons used by Laurent Gbagbo’s forces against civilian populations and the UN forces. France’s Force Licorne intervened to protect a large number of French, European and non-European nationals in Abidjan, sheltering over 5000 people at the French base in Port-Bouet.
The election of President Ouattara was the start of a new chapter in Franco-Ivorian relations. The renewal of ties was celebrated during a State visit by President Ouattara in early 2012.
Main visits of French dignitaries to Côte d’Ivoire:
- 21 May 2011: Participation of the President of the French Republic, accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister responsible for cooperation, at the inauguration of President Ouattara in Yamoussoukro.
- from 26 to 28 June 2011: Working visit of Mr Gérard Longuet, Minister of Defence.
- 14 and 15 July 2011: Official visit of Prime Minister François Fillon.
- 1 December 2012: Visit of Mr Pierre Moscovici, Minister of the Economy and Finance, and Mr Pascal Canfin, Minister Delegate for Development, for the signing of the first C2D (debt reduction and development contract).- 19 January 2013: Visit of Mr Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to Abuja for the ECOWAS extraordinary summit .
- 18 and 19 November 2013: Visit of Ms Nicole Bricq, Minister of Foreign Trade.
- 17 July 2014: Official visit of the President of the French Republic to Abidjan.
- 24 and 25 October 2014: Visit of Mr Claude Bartolone, President of the French National Assembly.
- 25 April 2015: Visit of Ms Annick Girardin, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie.
Main visits of Ivorian dignitaries to France:
- from 25 to 28 January 2012: State visit of President Ouattara to France, symbolizing the reconciliation between the two countries.
- 26 July 2012: President Ouattara received at the Élysée Palace.
- 4 December 2012: President Ouattara received at the Élysée Palace.
- 8 April 2013: President Ouattara received at the Élysée Palace.
- 4 December 2014: President Ouattara received at the Élysée Palace.
- 11 January 2015: Participation of the Minister of Defence, Mr Koffi, in the republican march.
- 4 December 2014: President Ouattara received at the Élysée Palace.
As one of France’s 47 priority countries for foreign trade, Côte d’Ivoire is our primary trading partner in the Franc Zone and our fourth-largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, after Nigeria, South Africa and Angola. France, meanwhile, is Côte d’Ivoire’s second-largest trading partner after Nigeria. In 2013, bilateral trade reached €1.7 billion, rising 10% compared with 2012. French exports rose to €1.02 billion and largely consisted of the following categories of products: farm, forestry, fishery and aquaculture products, agrifood products, agricultural and industrial machinery, various machinery, and pharmaceuticals. Our imports were €662 million and essentially composed of agrifood products, farm, forestry, fishery and aquaculture products, refined petroleum products and coke, wood, paper and board.
The major French groups traditionally present in Africa are mostly active in Côte d’Ivoire through subsidiaries. There are around 140 French subsidiaries, employing nearly 40,000 people, and some 500 French SMEs governed by local law, forming France’s largest presence in sub-Saharan Africa. In the agrifood industry and in the field of urban energy, new needs are being identified, which our SMEs are capable of fulfilling. French economic stakeholders, along with all operators in Côte d’Ivoire, suffered heavily as a result of the post-electoral political crisis.
To help enable an exit from the crisis, France offered Côte d’Ivoire considerable support in international financial forums. After the debt reprofiling agreement signed by Côte d’Ivoire and the Paris Club on 15 May 2009, France signed a bilateral restructuring agreement with the country on 9 December 2009, which led to the cancellation of debt of $455 million, rescheduling of $697 million and deferral of $2.2 billion.
Since the end of the post-election crisis, France has granted support of €350 million (Agence Française de Développement [French Development Agency, AFD] loan), primarily to pay the salaries and pensions of civil servants and to fund urgent social spending and the economic recovery (national debt, stimulus funds, etc.).
In addition, AFD has agreed to fully guarantee the loan of 32.8 billion CFA francs (€50 million) granted to Côte d’Ivoire by two local commercial banks: BICICI (BNP Paribas Group) and BOA-Côte d’Ivoire.
France is Côte d’Ivoire’s leading bilateral donor.
In June 2012, Côte d’Ivoire reached the completion point of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. In July 2012, we signed a bilateral agreement which provides for:
- the write-off of commercial debt of €913 million;
- the additional cancellation of debt of €2.9 billion, via the debt reduction and development contract (C2D).
The purpose of C2D is to finance fundamental development programmes. In practical terms, the debt repayments are made, then immediately refunded to the recipient country to finance jointly-defined projects. AFD acts as the operator.
The first C2D (2012-2015) involved a sum of €630 million; all the funds have already been allocated, but certain projects are still underway and the funds are starting to accumulate. €100 million was earmarked for budget support. Under the first C2D, the funds were allocated to six main sectors:
- transport infrastructure (€153 million);
- education, training and employment (€93 million);
- water (€86 million);
- healthcare (€76.5 million);
- farming, rural development and biodiversity (€79 million);
- justice (€23 million).
For example, the first C2D improved drinking water access for 580,000 Ivorians and created jobs for 2000 young people through labour-intensive work.
The second C2D (2015-2020) involves a total of €1.125 billion. It was signed in Paris on 3 December 2014 by the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and the Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire. It overlaps with the first, to allow the available funds to be used for projects under either contract. Côte d’Ivoire will repay €225 million per year. The six areas of focus remain the same:
- urban development, decentralization, water and sanitation: €195 million;
- education, training and employment: €191 million;
- transport infrastructure: €191 million;
- farming, rural development and biodiversity: €122 million;
- healthcare and social protection: €68 million;
- justice: €8 million. €335 million will be earmarked for budget support and a reserve, to be allocated gradually.
From 2002 to 2011, during the crisis in Côte d’Ivoire, AFD suspended its activities at state level due to outstanding sovereign debt payments. In April 2011, as the post-electoral crisis was resolved, France provided Côte d’Ivoire with exceptional financial support: a budget support loan of €350 million and a €50 million guarantee on a private loan. According to the IMF, Côte d’Ivoire faces a “moderate risk” of debt distress and its public debt continues to grow. Côte d’Ivoire is a lower-middle-income country, with an annual gross national income per capita of $1380.
During the decade of crisis, AFD continued to fund the private sector. AFD supports SMEs: Côte d’Ivoire represents its largest ARIZ (risk-sharing) portfolio. Since 2008, Proparco, the AFD subsidiary for private sector financing, has financed a dozen projects in the energy, banking, agroindustry and infrastructure sectors.
The Institut Français in Abidjan, which had to close during the crisis, has undergone major renovation. It reopened in December 2014. The French Embassy contributes via budget programme 185 (€730,000 in 2015): higher education scholarships, support for the Institut Français and research, and Alliances Françaises. In 2015, the Embassy has €43,000 for budget programme 209, which is largely focused on governance cooperation.
European Union cooperation: under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), the National Indicative Programme for Côte d’Ivoire has been allocated €273 million (a slight increase compared with the 10th EDF). It covers initiatives in three priority areas:
- state-building and peace-building (€60 million), with continuing support in the fields of justice, the rule of law, domestic security, security sector reform, human rights and public finances;
- support for the agricultural sector (€60 million), with the aim of securing rural land tenure and promoting peri-urban subsistence crop farming;
- support for the energy sector (€139 million), which should help to ensure long-term energy security in the country.