Côte d’Ivoire enjoys amicable relations with the major world powers, with no outstanding bilateral issues. During the cold war, Côte d’Ivoire generally favoured the West and had no diplomatic ties with the USSR from between 1969 and 1986. It is a member of the UN and most of its specialised agencies. The international community generally sided with presidential candidate Alassane Ouattara during the civil war that followed the post-election crisis of 2010. Therefore, the eventual ascendency of Ouattara to the presidency supported a rapid normalisation of relations. Recent years have seen Côte d’Ivoire play an increasingly visible role in the diplomatic sphere, with government officials working to strengthen ties with major global powers.
Côte d’Ivoire sought to maintain close relations with France after independence. Multiple political, commercial and cultural ties testify to the former colonial power’s enduring legacy. First among these is French, which is the official language of the nation. Monetarily, the West African CFA franc was formerly pegged to the French franc but is now has a fixed exchange rate with the euro. Furthermore, the country chose to base its legal system on that of France.
A treaty was signed between the France and Côte d’Ivoire on April 24, 1961, which provides for the stationing of France’s 43rd Marine Infantry Battalion in Port Bouet, located near Abidjan airport. This accord became a source of bitterness during the civil war, when the former Ivorian government criticised France for failing to help them recapture rebel-held areas. However, France’s role in supporting Ouattara’s rise has ensured that Franco-Ivorian relations have been strengthened under the president’s administration, with the European country becoming a key trading partner and source of foreign direct investment.
Relations between Côte d’Ivoire and the US have traditionally been friendly and close. In a bid to enable the former to move on from its crisis, the US provided more than a quarter of the funding for the UN’s post-crisis development operations. The US is also a key trading partner, importing considerable amounts of cocoa, oil, rubber, wood, and cashew nuts while exporting plastics, machinery, oil, agricultural products, vehicles, and iron and steel products. US investment in the country is primarily focused on oil and gas, banking, cocoa, health, and international courier services. A security agreement supports the professional development of Ivorian army officers. Côte d’Ivoire also benefits from preferential trade access to the US market under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act.
Côte d’Ivoire established diplomatic relations with China in 1983. In accordance with its wider investment goals in resource-rich West Africa, China has financed numerous development projects in the country. On June 30, 2017, Côte d’Ivoire’s prime minister attended the opening ceremony of the Chinese-built Soubré hydroelectric power station. The project cost approximately $572m, of which 85% was financed by China and 15% by Côte d’Ivoire. Another important project is the expansion of the Port of Abidjan, at an estimated cost of $1.12bn. Other construction projects include the Abidjan-Grand Bassam motorway, the new Olympic stadium in Abidjan, as well as hospital and water infrastructure and a new industrial zone.
The EU is the country’s largest trading partner and its main private investor. Their political and economic relations are covered by the Coutonou Agreement. Signed in June 2000 the deal is the most comprehensive extant partnership between the EU and developing countries in Africa,the Caribbean and Pacific, and is designed to consolidate development and cooperation.
An economic partnership agreement (EPA) between ECOWAS and the EU was completed in 2014, the culmination of a decade of trade negotiations between the two blocs. The EPA elimination of 75% of tariffs from the region over a 20-year period, with the EU committing to provide €6.5bn in development aid to help ECOWAS member states integrate with the global economy.
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