(Adds official, analysts comments, details)
ABIDJAN, March 11 Ivory Coast recorded consumer
price deflation of -0.2 percent year-on-year in February,
slipping from inflation of 0.1 percent in January, the National
Statistics Institute (NSI) reported on Tuesday.
Economists said the dip into negative territory was no
reason for concern. The economy of Ivory Coast - the world's top
cocoa producer - is reviving after a decade of political
upheaval, and now makes up around 40 percent of the $80 billion
economy of the West African CFA-franc currency zone.
The institute's monthly report showed housing and utility
prices declined 0.6 percent, food and soft drink prices dropped
3.6 percent and transport costs were down 0.4 percent.
Healthcare prices slipped 0.1 percent and communication costs
"There's no cause for alarm," said a senior official at the
NSI, who asked not to be named. "The drop is due to a dip in
certain food items such as fresh fish, unprocessed cereals and
Ivory Coast last experienced year-on-year deflation in April
and May 2012, a year after a post-election civil war sent the
prices of consumer goods sky-rocketing.
The conflict marked end of years of political turmoil. After
a decade of low growth, the Ivory Coast's economy expanded by
9.8 percent in 2012 and around 9 percent last year.
NSI officials have previously said that the country's rapid
growth fuelled inflation in early 2013 and that current figures
reflect a stabilisation of the economy.
Samir Gadio, an emerging-markets strategist at Standard
Bank, said that a deceleration in year-on-year inflation had
been expected in the first quarter of 2014.
"But the magnitude of the drop exceeded expectations,
suggesting that intrinsic month-on-month pressures remain benign
despite the strong economic rebound underway," he told Reuters.
(Reporting by Loucoumane Coulibaly; Additional reporting and
writing by Joe Bavier; Editing by Emma Farge and Larry King)