MALI: Ivory Coast War Brings Lower Cotton Profits

Mali's state-owned cotton company (CMDT) has slashed this year's profit forecast by 67 percent because of increased transport costs due to war in neighboring Ivory Coast, a company official said recently.

He said the 2002/03 cotton season profit was initially seen at 4.62 billions CFA francs ($7.3 million) but this was based on the assumption that Mali's cotton fibre would be exported through Ivory Coast's main port of Abidjan.

"Now, as the chances of this happening are dwindling and as we go to Lome, Tema and Dakar to export, expected profit has been reduced to 1.52 billion," the official told Reuters.

When fighting broke out in Ivory Coast in September its northern border with landlocked Mali was shut, forcing the biggest sub-Saharan cotton producer to send shipments by road to ports in Togo, Ghana and Senegal.

The impoverished West African country is expecting an output of 430,000 tonnes in the 2002/03 season, down from 571,000 tonnes the previous season.

According to Mali's Economy Ministry, the war in Ivory Coast has cost the Malian state 11.4 billion CFA in lost taxes and will cost the entire economy some 100 billion CFA francs in the first quarter of 2003.

Cotton is Mali's second biggest export earner behind gold. The vast country on the fringes of the Sahara desert ranks as Africa's third gold producer behind South Africa and Ghana. ľAgencies.

January 3, 2003

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Added: January 3, 2003
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