CHARACTER AND STRUCTURE OF THE ECONOMY
The Ivory Coast is one of the many poor countries of the world whose economies are underdeveloped. Limited in its command of capital, enterprise and skilled labor, it suffers the classical disadvantages of being almost exclusively an importer of manufactured goods and an exporter of primary agricultural products. Nevertheless, it is closer to prosperity than are most of the other West African countries. Its resources are more varied; its range of exports is more diversified; and its infrastructure is better developed than those of all but a very few of its neighbors. Extractive and processing industries have taken a foothold and are growing. In contrast to most of the new African republics, it has enjoyed a continuously favorable balance of trade since the early 1950's. Of all the former French West African territories, the Ivory Coast had the highest potential for economic growth in 1962.
The Ivory Coast's economic dependency on France outlived its political dependency and still existed in 1962. French public and private capital helped to support the government, assured the internal and external acceptability of the currency, financed most major commercial enterprises, and was the foundation of the country's banking and credit structure. French enterprises operating in the country were a major market for the Ivory Coast's wage labor; France absorbed over half of the country's exports; and Frenchmen held most of the key posts in business and in many government ministries.
On the other hand, the economic bonds between the Ivory Coast and the other former French dependencies in West Africa were weak, despite a common heritage and a community of interests. However, the government, by virtue of its adherence to a number of groupings of former French African territories, was committed to the principle of African economic cooperation and eventual unity, but not at the expense of its immediate domestic interests or its close economic ties with France (see ch. 21, Domestic and Foreign Trade).
By its broad policies, the government was promoting a mixed economy in 1962, but one that encouraged and favored free enterprise. Also, it seldom permitted political considerations to impede overall economic