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Executive Summary Title

Despite enthusiasm for U.S. investment, there are significant obstacles to investing in Mali, including political instability, economic sanctions, allegations of corruption, poor infrastructure, and ongoing insecurity throughout the country. Mali remains under transition government rule after a coup d’etat in August 2020, followed by a further consolidation of military power in May 2021. The U.S. Department of State maintains a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” travel advisory for Mali due to crime, terrorism, and kidnapping. Continued insecurity throughout Mali is exacerbated by the minimal presence of the state in many areas and has permitted terrorist groups to conduct attacks against Western targets and Malian security forces. Intercommunal violence stemming from conflict between livestock herders and crop farmers in central Mali further contributes to instability.

Mali depends on bilateral donors and multilateral financial institutions, including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and African Development Bank, to fund major development projects, particularly in health, infrastructure, education, and agriculture. Mali received significant financial support in 2020 to address the COVID-19 pandemic and to support post-pandemic economic recovery. Since then, however, donors such as Denmark and France have partially or fully interrupted their development support to Mali, intensifying the financing needs.

The COVID-19 crisis interrupted a five-year period of consistent growth. As a result, Mali’s growth in 2020 reached only two percent against an initial projection of five percent. The transition government took measures to support households and businesses amid this economic slowdown, further increasing its fiscal deficit, which reached 6.2 percent of GDP in 2020, against an initial projection of 3.5 percent. In March 2021, the IMF projected GDP growth of six percent for Mali, as well as average inflation of two percent. Mali was relying on these positive projections to reduce its budget deficit to 4.5 percent of GDP, down from 5.5 percent a year ago. These projected figures will likely be significantly affected by the ECOWAS and WAEMU sanctions in force during the first half of 2022.

Business contacts report both Malian and foreign businesses face corruption in procurement, customs procedures, tax payment, and land administration, although the transition government has committed to undertaking reform, including through improved public financial management practices and increased tax revenues. Efforts to strengthen revenue collection agencies, particularly customs, are ongoing following significant revenue shortfalls in 2018 that the IMF attributed to corruption, weak taxpayer compliance, and fraud. Malian businesses generally view U.S. products favorably and openly search for new partnerships with U.S. firms, particularly in infrastructure, energy, mining, and agriculture.

Investors may consult the website of Mali’s Investment Promotion Agency (API-Mali)

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 136 of 180
Global Innovation Index 2021 124 of 132
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2020 USD 0*
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 USD 830

* A nonzero value that rounds to zero.

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Mali encourages foreign investment. In general, the law treats foreign and domestic investment equally. In practice, U.S. investors report facing many of the same challenges as other foreign investors do, including allegedly unfair application of tax collection laws, difficulties clearing goods through customs, and requests for bribes. Corruption in the judiciary is common and foreign companies may find themselves at a disadvantage vis-à-vis Malian investors in enforcing contracts and competing for public procurement tenders.

The transition government has instituted policies promoting direct investment and export-oriented businesses. Foreign investors go through the same screening process as domestic investors. Criteria for authorizing an investment under Mali’s 2012 investment code include the size of the proposed capital investment, the use of locally produced raw materials, and the level of job creation.

Mali’s Investment Promotion Agency (API-Mali) serves as a one-stop shop for prospective investors and serves both Malian and foreign enterprises of all sizes. API-Mali’s website ( ) provides information on business registration, investment opportunities, tax incentives, and other topics relevant to prospective investors.

Mali maintains an office in charge of business climate reform (Cellule Technique des Réformes du Climat des Affaires or CTRCA). Since 2015, Mali has also had a committee for monitoring business environment reforms that includes both government and private sector members. Mali adopted a law governing public-private partnerships (PPPs) in 2016 and has a dedicated PPP unit charged with reviewing and facilitating implementation of PPP projects in a multitude of sectors.

Foreign and domestic private entities have the right to establish and own business enterprises with no restriction to forms of remunerative activities. There are some specific limits on ownership in the mining and media sector: Malian law requires the owners and primary shareholders of media companies be Malian nationals. Foreign investors in the mining sector can own up to 90 percent of a mining company. WAEMU, of which Mali is a member, requires Malian and foreign companies to report if they will hold foreign currency reserves in their Malian business accounts and to receive approval from the Ministry of Economy and Finances and from the Central Bank for West African States (BCEAO).

The World Trade Organization (WTO) reviewed the trade and investment policies of WAEMU members, including Mali, in 2018. The review can be accessed here . The United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner released reports on Mali human rights situation.

Mali’s Investment Promotion Agency, API-Mali ( ), serves as a one-stop shop to facilitate both foreign and local investment. API successfully reduced the average time to start a business in Mali to 72 hours, which it expects to further reduce to 48 hours. API provides investors with information relating to authorizations for business creation, waivers, the organization of investments promotion events, and other information. API opened regional satellite offices in Kayes, Koulikoro, Sikasso, Segou, and Mopti. There is no noted discrimination based on gender, age, or ethnicity in the process of business registration.

Foreign companies wishing to register in Mali may receive tax and customs benefits depending on the size of investment. Small and medium-sized enterprises (for which there is no common definition across government entities) are also eligible for some fiscal advantages.

The transition government has no specific policy to promote outward investment. Mali has gradually begun to introduce economic diplomacy by appointing economic advisors in its diplomatic representations. In general, its outward direct investment flows to neighboring countries.

3. Legal Regime

In its 2022 Fiscal Transparency Report Survey, the Department of State determined Mali does not meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency nor did it make significant progress toward achieving that goal in the previous year. Mali has adopted laws designed to meet the requirements of fair competition, ease bureaucratic procedures, and facilitate the hiring and firing of employees, but in practice many international firms complain of lack of transparency in the regulatory system and challenges in enforcing regulatory requirements to the detriment of business prospects. There is no public comment period or other opportunity for citizens or businesses to comment upon proposed laws.

Mali is a member of UNCTAD’s international network of transparent investment procedures. Mali is also a member of the African Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law (OHADA) and implements the Accounting System of West African States (SYSCOA), which harmonizes business practices among several African countries consistent with international norms. There are no informal regulatory processes managed by nongovernmental organizations or associations.

Mali’s Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (Autorité de régulation des marchés publics or ARMDS) is tasked with ensuring transparency in public procurement projects and may receive complaints from businesses on public procurement-related issues. ARMDS publishes information about its decisions in disputes as well as key laws relating to public procurement on its website at .

The transition government regularly reviews regulations in order to adapt them to the current national context or to international standards or commitments. The new mining code and its implementing decree, adopted respectively in 2019 and in 2020, will apply to future mining projects. In February, the ministry of mines declared it is working on the new mining code to improve it and correct deficiencies. In December 2021, the transition government approved a new customs code in order to simplify the customs procedures and facilitate international trade. The government planned also to reform the investment code. The tax code and the tax procedures book (Livre de procédures fiscales) were substantially amended in September 2020, mainly to introduce a mandatory registration of all taxpayers, to operate changes in the VAT refund, to classify companies in terms of risks for the tax office, to digitize tax return and payment. The tax office had also planned to make e-filing mandatory. More information is available on the tax office’s website here .

The reform initiatives in Mali capitalize on experience, input from stakeholders (citizens, elected officials, and technical and financial partners), and reflect the requirements of the new directives establishing a harmonized, renewed framework for public finance in WAEMU member states. Mali has enacted the following directives: Law N°2013-031 of July 23, 2013, adopting the Code of Transparency in Public Finances; Law N°2013-028 of July 11, 2013, relating to the Finance Laws; Decree 2014-0349 of May 22, 2014, on the General Regulations of Public Accounting; and Decree 2014-0774 of October 14, 2014, on the State Chart of Accounts.

Mali makes public finance documents, including the budgets for all government ministries and offices, available on the Ministry of Economy of Finance’s website ( Mali’s national budget provides details on the expenditures of government entities (including the presidency and prime minister’s office) and the revenues of tax collection authorities, including customs, the public debt directorate, the land administration directorate, and the treasury and public accounting directorate. The budget also includes information on public debt, as well as government subsidies to petroleum products and to the state-owned utility company (Energie du Mali or EDM). Mali also publishes a simplified version of the budget known as the citizen’s budget.

Mali has multiple audit institutions tasked with monitoring public spending. The Malian supreme court’s accounts section is responsible for reviewing and approving the financial statements of all government departments. The Office of the Auditor General (Bureau du Vérificateur General, or BVG) is authorized to audit the accounts of all government entities as well as private companies or other entities that receive public funds. Its reports are made public and can be accessed at . Mali has other auditing institutions, including the Office to Fight against Illicit Enrichment (Office central de Lutte contre l’Enrichissement illicite or OCLEI), the General Comptroller of Public Services (Contrôle Général des Services Publics or CGSP), and the Support Unit for Administrative Auditing Bodies (Cellule d’Appui aux Structures de Contrôle de l’Administration or CASCA). Despite the existence of multiple audit institutions, management of public funds remains opaque and subject to corrupt practices, particularly in public procurements.

Mali remains a suspended member of WAEMU and ECOWAS. Mali is a member of the WTO. Mali has not notified the WTO of any measures concerning investments related to trade in goods that are inconsistent with the requirements of Trade Related Investment Measures. Information on other notifications from Mali to the WTO can be found at  under the “Notifications from Mali” section.

Mali’s legal system is based on French civil law. Mali uses its investment code, mining code, commerce code, labor code, and code on competition and price to govern disputes. Disputes occasionally arise between the government or state-owned enterprises and foreign companies. Some investors report certain cases involve wrongdoing on the part of corrupt government officials.

Although Mali’s judicial system is independent, many companies have noted it is subject to political influence. Numerous business complaints are awaiting an outcome in the courts. The Minister of Justice wields influence over the career paths of judges and prosecutors, which may compromise their independence. Corruption in the judicial system is common, leading to what foreign investors have characterized as flawed decisions.

An independent commercial court was established in 1991 with the encouragement of the U.S. government to expedite the handling of business litigation. Commercial courts, located in Bamako, Kayes, and Mopti, can hear intellectual property rights cases. In areas where there is no commercial court, the local courts of first instance have the jurisdiction to hear business disputes. Decisions made by the courts of first instance are appealable in the court of appeals and/or in the supreme court. Since its inception, the commercial court has handled cases involving foreign companies. The court is staffed by magistrates and is assisted by elected Malian Chamber of Commerce and Industry representatives. Teams composed of one magistrate and two Chamber of Commerce and Industry representatives conduct hearings. The magistrate’s role is to ensure the court renders decisions in accordance with applicable commercial laws, including internationally recognized bankruptcy laws, and court decisions are enforced under Malian law.

Mali’s investment code gives the same incentives to both domestic and foreign companies for licensing, procurement, tax and customs duty deferrals, export and import policies, and export zone status if the firm exports at least 80 percent of production. Incentives include exemptions from duties on imported equipment and machinery. Investors may also receive tax exemptions on the use of local raw materials. In addition, foreign companies can negotiate specific incentives on a case-by-case basis. Mali has reduced or eliminated many export taxes and import duties as part of ongoing economic reforms; however, export taxes remain for gold and cotton, Mali’s two primary exports. The government applies price controls to petroleum products and cotton, and occasionally to other commodities (such as rice) on a case-by-case basis.

In most cases, foreign investors may own 100 percent of any business they create, except in the mining and media sectors. Foreign investors may also purchase shares in parastatal companies. Foreign companies may also start joint-venture operations with Malian enterprises. The repatriation of capital and profit is guaranteed.

Despite having a generally favorable investment regime on paper, foreign investors have complained of facing challenges in practice, including limited access to financing, high levels of corruption, poor infrastructure (including inconsistent electricity access), a non-transparent judicial system, and the lack of an educated workforce.

The following websites provide additional information relating to investments in Mali:

Investment Promotion Agency:

Mali Trade Portal: 

National Council of Employers: 

Niger River Authority (Officer du Niger): 

Ministry of Economy and Finances: 

The Ministry of Commerce and Industry is responsible for reviewing free competition in the Malian marketplace. Mali’s national competition law (Law 2016-006 and Decree 2018-0332) and the WAEMU 2002 anti-trust rules are the primary judicial documents that govern competition in Mali. The competition law bans any agreements restricting competition or market access. It also bans control or fixation of prices through agreements. Abuses of dominance are prohibited. The commercial court (Tribunal of Commerce) and ARMDS are the primary judicial bodies that oversee competition-related concerns.

Mali’s Organization of Industrial Entrepreneurs (Organisation Patronal des Industriels or OPI) has criticized corruption and smuggling as significant hurdles to fair competition. Contacts report Mali struggles to limit illegal imports of products such as sodas, juices, tobacco, medicines, and textiles (including fabrics). The General Directorate of Customs, the National Directorate for Commerce and Competition, and the Agency for the Sanitary Security of Foods occasionally intervene to address the import and commercialization of smuggled goods but have limited capacity to effectively address the problem.

Expropriation of private property other than land for public purposes is rare. Mali has not unfairly targeted U.S. firms for expropriation. Under Malian law, the expropriation process must be public and transparent and follow the principles of international law. Compensation based on market value is awarded by court decision.

The government may exercise eminent domain in various situations, including when undertaking large-scale public projects, in cases of bankrupt companies that had a government guarantee for their financing, or when a company has not complied with the requirements of an investment agreement with the government.

In cases of illegal expropriations, Malian law affords claimants due process in principle. However, given reported corruption in the land administration sector, impartial adjudication of court cases involving land disputes is rare.

Mali’s bankruptcy law is found in its commerce code, which does not criminalize bankruptcy. The commercial code makes a distinction between insolvency and the cessation of payment or accidental difficulty. It defines the judiciary process of compulsory liquidation. Generally, a bankrupt company will be sold piecemeal.

4. Industrial Policies

Mali’s investment, mining, commerce, and labor codes aim to encourage investment and attract foreign investors. By law, there is no discrimination between foreign-owned firms and Malian entities with regard to investment opportunities. The investment code offers incentives to companies that reinvest profits to expand existing businesses or diversify into another relevant sector. The code also encourages the use of locally sourced inputs, which can offer tax exemptions. Companies that use at least 60 percent locally produced raw materials in their products are eligible for certain tax exemptions. Companies that invest at least five percent of their turnover in supporting local research and development are eligible for a reduction of payroll taxes for Malian employees.

Companies (foreign or domestic) that export at least 80 percent of their production are entitled to tax-free status. As such, they benefit from duty-free status on all equipment and other inputs needed for their operations. Mali encourages investment in the cultural sector by reducing taxes on imports of cultural goods. In March 2020, Mali adopted an order exempting renewable energy equipment from VAT and import taxes. Mali may also provide short-term tax exemptions on certain essential products (such as rice, cooking oil, milk, and sugar) when the prices of those goods are unusually high.

Most businesses are located in the capital city of Bamako. The investment code encourages the establishment of new businesses in other areas through incentives such as income tax exemptions for five- to eight-year periods, reduced energy prices, and the installation of water, electric power, and telecommunication lines in areas lacking public utilities.

To date, there are no dedicated free trade zones in Mali. Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso have planned to establish a special economic zone involving the agricultural areas of Sikasso in Mali, Korogho in Cote d’Ivoire, and Bobo-Dioulasso in Burkina Faso, but the zone is not yet operational. The investment code states companies operating in special economic zones will benefit from reductions of taxes on profits and of corporate taxes to 25 percent over a period of seven years.

The 2019 mining code requires large mining companies (for which there is no precise definition in the mining code) to recruit Malian nationals who possess the requisite skills and experience. Mining companies must also progressively replace foreign employees with Malian nationals who possess the requisite skills and experience. Feasibility studies for large mines must incorporate a plan to replace foreign employees with Malian employees. There is no requirement that foreign investment or foreign equity in a mine be reduced over time.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Property rights are protected under Malian law. Ownership of property is defined by the use, the profitability, and the ability of the owner to sell or donate the property.

The government established the Malian Center for the Promotion of Industrial Property to implement property rights protection laws, including the WTO TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) agreement. The Malian Center for the Promotion of Industrial Property is a member of the African Property Rights Organization and works with international agencies recognized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization. Patents, copyrights, and trademarks are covered under property rights protection laws. These structures notwithstanding, property rights are not always adequately protected in practice.

Mali’s National Land Agency (Direction Nationale des Domaines et du Cadastre or DNDC) is in charge of the land administration. In October 2021, Mali amended the land code to simplify the process of delivering land titles. The new code creates a one-stop-shop to handle land procedures. It reinforces traditional land rights (le droit coutumier) and enables the Minister of Land to cancel the attribution or confiscation of public properties. The new code considers the land title (le titre foncier), which gives full property ownership, as the unique property title. It also empowers the Ministry of Agriculture to deliver farming rights to rural agricultural communities. It clarifies the role of different offices in the management of lands affairs. All non-registered land belongs to the state. Various government officials, including prefects, governors, or subprefects, are no longer empowered to grant land ownership status. Mali is building a nationwide land registry to reduce competing claims for land.

Mali is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Mali has ratified a number of international treaties related to intellectual property rights (IPR). There are two primary agencies involved with the protection of IPR in Mali: the Malian Office of the Rights of the Author (Bureau Malien du Droit d’Auteur or BUMDA) and the Malian Center for the Promotion of Intellectual Property (Centre Malien de Promotion de la Propriété Industrielle or CEMAPI). CEMAPI is the primary agency for patents and for industrial property rights violation claims, while BUMDA covers artistic and cultural works. In addition to registering copyrights, BUMDA conducts random searches during which it seizes and destroys counterfeit products. Mali’s Agency for the Sanitary Security of Foods, the National Directorate of Agriculture, and the National Directorate for Commerce and Competition are also charged with enforcing laws related to fair trade, fair competition, and IPR.

In general, however, the government has limited capacity to combat IPR violations or to seize counterfeit goods. There is a significant number of reported IPR violations in the artistic sector as well as in the pharmaceutical sector. According to the Malian National Pharmaceutical Association, nearly 50 percent of pharmaceuticals sold in Mali are counterfeit. Many CDs, movies, and books are reported to be pirated. Several companies have noted children are often involved in selling counterfeit products such as clothes, CDs, and books. In the past, counterfeit products were typically imported from foreign cities, including Guangzhou and Dubai. However, BUMDA has reported counterfeit products increasingly originate in Mali and Nigeria.

Mali is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at 

6. Financial Sector

Portfolio investment is not a current practice in Mali. In 1994, the government instituted a system of treasury bonds available for purchase by individuals or companies. The payment of dividends or the repurchase of bonds may be done through a compensation procedure offsetting corporate income taxes or other sums due to the government.

The WAEMU stock exchange program based in Abidjan has a branch in each WAEMU country, including Mali. One Malian company is quoted in the stock exchange. The planned privatization of EDM, Mali’s state-run electricity company, the telecommunications entity (Societé des Telecommunications du Mali or SOTELMA), the cotton ginning company (Compagnie Malienne pour le Développement du Textile or CMDT), and the Bamako-Senou Airport offer prospects for some companies to be listed on the WAEMU stock exchange.

WAEMU statutes and the BCEAO govern the banking system and monetary policy in Mali. Commercial banks in Mali enjoyed considerable liquidity, though this was negatively affected by the imposition of financial sanctions during the first half of 2022. The majority of banks’ loanable funds, however, do not come from deposits, but rather from other liabilities, such as lines of credit from the BCEAO and North African and European banks. Despite having sufficient loanable funds, commercial banks in Mali tend to have highly conservative lending practices. Bank loans generally support short-term activities, such as letters of credit to support export-import activities and short-term lines of credit and bridge loans for established businesses. Small- and medium-sized businesses have reportedly had difficulty obtaining access to credit. The Guarantee Fund for Private Sector (le Fonds de Garantie du Secteur Privé or FGSP) is a partially state-owned financial institution which provides guarantees up to 50 percent of the loan that SMEs/SMIs and microfinance institutions could borrow from commercial banks. The FGSP also provides direct financing to the private sector. Mali recently increased the financial resources of the FGSP as a measure to support the private sector to face the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mali also created a National Directorate of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in 2020 in part to address the challenges SMEs face in accessing financing.

In order to improve the business environment and soundness of the financial system, the BCEAO adopted a uniform law regarding credit reference bureaus. The government aligned its legislation with this regional requirement by authorizing a credit reference bureau in Mali to collect and process information from financial institutions, public sources, water and electricity companies, and other entities to create credit records for clients. The credit rating system aims to increase the solvency of borrowers and improve access to credit.

Mali’s microfinance sector has grown rapidly. Despite this growth, microfinance institutions suffer from poor governance and management of resources and have not put in place all government regulations or regional best practices to ensure sufficient financial controls and transparency.

Money laundering and terrorist financing are concerns in Mali. Although Mali’s anti-money laundering law designates several reporting entities, companies have noted very few comply with their legal obligations. While businesses are technically required to report cash transactions over approximately $10,000, most reportedly do not. Despite terrorist networks operating throughout Mali, the country’s financial intelligence unit, the National Financial Information Processing Unit (CENTIF), receives relatively few suspicious transaction reports concerning possible cases of terrorist financing. With the exception of casinos, designated non-financial businesses and professions are not subject to customer due diligence requirements.

Mali is a member of the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), a Financial Action Task Force (FATF)-style regional body. Mali’s most recent mutual evaluation report, completed in November 2019, can be found at .

Mali does not have a sovereign wealth fund.

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Mali has privatized or reduced government involvement in many state-owned enterprises (SOEs). However, there are still 45 state-owned or partially state-owned companies in Mali, including 12 mining companies, five banks, the national electricity company EDM, the telecommunications entity SOTELMA, the cotton ginning company CMDT, as well as cigarette company (Société nationale de tabac et allumettes du Mali or SONATAM), sugar companies Sukala and N-Sukala, and the Airports of Mali. The government no longer has shares in two banks, Banque Sahelo-Saharienne pour l’Investissement et le Commerce (BSIC-Mali), and Coris Bank International-Mali, in which it had respectively 25 and 10 percent shares as of December 2017. The government reduced its shares in the Malian Development Bank (BDM) and Malian Solidarity Bank (BMS) while it maintained its share in the Banque Nationale de Developpement Agricole (BNDA), which increased its total capital stock by 21.5 percent in 2019 compared with 2018.

Private and public enterprises compete under the same terms and conditions. No preferential treatment is given to SOEs, although they can be at a competitive disadvantage due to limited flexibility in their management decision-making process. Malian law guarantees equal treatment for financing, land access, tax burden, tax rebate, and access to raw materials for private firms and SOEs.

The government is active in the agricultural sector. The parastatal Niger River Authority (Office du Niger) controls much of the irrigated rice fields and vegetable production in the Niger River inland delta, although some private operators have been granted plots of land to develop. The Office du Niger encourages both national and foreign private investment to develop the farmlands it manages. Under a Millennium Challenge Corporation-funded irrigation project, Mali granted titles to small private farmers; an adjacent tranche developed with MCC was to have been open to large-scale private investment through a public tender process. However, all MCC projects were suspended as a result of the coup d’état of March 2012 and discontinued when the projects reached the end of their implementation deadline. The national cotton production company, CMDT, which is yet to be privatized, provides financing for fertilizers and inputs to cotton farmers, sets cotton prices, purchases cotton from producers, and exports cotton fiber via ports in neighboring countries. The agricultural sector, including cotton growing, is subject to erratic rainfalls.

The government also remains active in the banking sector. The state owns shares in five of the 14 banks in Mali: BDM (19.5 percent share), Banque Internationale pour le Mali (BIM) (10.5 percent), BNDA (36.5 percent), BMS (13.8 percent), and Banque Commerciale du Sahel (BCS) (3.3 percent). While the government no longer has a majority stake in BDM, it has significant influence over its management, including the privilege to appoint the head of the Board of Directors.

Senior transition government officials from different ministries make up the boards of SOEs. Major procurement decisions or equity raising decisions are referred to the Council of Ministers. Government powers remain in the hands of ministries or government agencies reporting to the ministries. No SOE has delegated powers from the government.

SOEs are required by law to publish an annual report. They hold a mandatory annual board of directors meeting to discuss financial statements prepared by a certified accountant and certified by an outside auditor in accordance with domestic standards (which are comparable to international financial reporting standards). Mali’s independent Auditor General conducts an annual review of public spending, which may result in the prosecution of cases of corruption. Audits of several state-owned mining companies have revealed significant irregularities.

The government’s privatization program for state enterprises provides investment opportunities through a process of open international bidding. Foreign companies have responded successfully to calls for bids in several cases. The government publishes announcements for bids in the government-owned daily newspaper, L’Essor. The process is non-discriminatory in principle; however, there have been many allegations of corruption in public procurement.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

There is no general awareness or defined standard of responsible business conduct in Mali among producers or consumers. Despite the creation of the Malian Agency for Normalization and Quality Promotion (Agence Malienne de Normalisation et de Promotion de la Qualité or AMANORM) and the National Agency for the Sanitary Security of Foods (Agence Nationale pour la Securité Sanitaire des Aliments or ANSSA), some report Mali continues to produce, import, and export dangerous products and products of poor quality. Allegations of violations of hygiene and quality standards are common in the food-processing industry and investors have reported there is no general awareness about the dangers of unsafe and toxic chemical products in food production.

Labor rights are not generally respected given Mali’s large and unregulated informal sector. Even formal businesses often hire workers informally, such that employees do not always receive social security, retirement, or other related benefits. Mali has various laws intended to prevent child and forced labor, as well as business practices harmful to the environment and local communities. Despite these laws, there are frequent reported cases of child labor and forced labor in the mining, agricultural, service, and industrial sectors. The mining code requires owners of mining and exploitation permits to present local development plans to mitigate the health, security, hygiene, environment, and cultural heritage impacts of their mining activities. Conflicts between local artisanal mining communities and foreign mining companies over land ownership rights are frequent. Local communities have voiced concern with the significant environmental impacts of mining, including from dredging, as well as the lack of government efforts to restore and rehabilitate the environment after mine closures. Foreign mining and oil exploration companies sometimes provide schools and health clinics to communities in proximity of their activities as a form of corporate social responsibility. These activities are not done in accordance with the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises but are rather the result of individual negotiations between the company and the leaders of neighboring communities.

Mali is an active member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and since 2011 has been designated as a “compliant country.” The latest EITI decision available at  notes Mali made “meaningful progress with considerable improvements in implementing the 2016 EITI Standard.”

Acute insecurity and intercommunal violence in the northern and central regions as well as episodic terrorist attacks in the southern regions have contributed to the development of the private security sector, which proposes services to the government, local companies, foreign governments and companies, and international organizations. The deployment of Russia-backed private military company Wagner Group in Mali has raised concerns from the international community and the U.S. government that the group may further destabilize Mali’s territory. Mali is not a signatory to the Montreux Document on Private Military and Security Companies, nor of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers’ Association (ICoCA).

Demographic pressure and natural resource exploitation have exacerbated environmental degradation in Mali. Desertification, CO₂ and methane gas emissions, waterway pollution, and the destruction of natural habitats constitute significant challenges for environmental protection. That said, Mali has taken some measures to reduce its greenhouse emissions, even as it considers itself a carbon sink. Mali released its first nationally determined contribution (NDC) in 2015, followed by a second, more robust NDC in 2021. This second NDC outlines Mali’s exposure to climate change as a result of increased temperatures and decreased rainfalls. The plan focuses on agriculture, forestry, energy, and waste, and specifically aims to strengthen Mali’s strategy for carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas reduction. The plan seeks to promote sustainable development through the promotion of green economy across various sectors.

The National Policy for the Protection of the Environment and the National Policy for Climate Change are the main policy documents. While the Agency for Environment and Sustainable Development (Agence de l’Environnement et le Développement Durable, or AEDD) coordinates the implementation of climate policy, many other departments, including but not limited to the National Directorate for Water and Forest, the Agency for Renewable Energy (AER), the Agency for Rural Electrification (AMADER), and the Agency for Treatment of Wastewater, participate in its implementation. In 2021, Climatescope ranked Mali 62 out of 107 countries for energy transition investment attractiveness. Mali’s climate policy implementation may face significant challenges related to the limitation in financial resources and limited absorption capacity of large projects.

More information can be found on this ClimateScope Report.

9. Corruption

Many companies claim corruption is the most significant obstacle to foreign investment and economic development in Mali. While corruption is a crime punishable under the penal code, bribery is frequently reported in many large contracts and investment projects. Some investors report government officials often solicit bribes to complete otherwise routine procedures. The transition government has pledged to prioritize anti-corruption efforts. In 2021, Transparency International’s global corruption ranking for Mali decreased to 136th of 180 ranked countries (from 129th of 180 in 2020). Mali’s perceived public corruption score from Transparency International was 29 out of 100 in 2020 (with 0 being “highly corrupt” and 100 being “very clean”). Relative to other developing countries, Mali was rated at the 67th percentile for control of corruption on the FY2020 MCC Scorecard (based on World Bank and Brookings Worldwide Governance Indicators reports).

Corruption is reportedly common in government procurement and dispute settlement. The government has addressed this issue by requiring procurement contracts to be inspected by the Directorate General for Public Procurement with the Ministry of Economy and Finance, which determines whether the procedure meets fairness, price competitiveness, and quality standards. However, there are allegations of significant political interference in procurement. In addition, both foreign and domestic companies complain about harassment and requests for bribes from officials involved in tax collection. Mali’s international donor community has been working with the government to reduce corruption.

Investors have found the judicial sector to be neither independent nor transparent. Questionable judgments in commercial cases have occasionally been successfully overturned at the supreme court. However, there is a general perception among the populace that while prosecution of minor economic crimes is routine, official corruption, particularly at the higher levels, goes largely unpunished.

In 2004, then-president of Mali Amadou Toumani Touré created the Office of the Auditor General (BVG) as an independent agency tasked with auditing public spending. Since its inception, the BVG has uncovered several significant cases of corruption, including in the customs directorate. However, few findings of corruption have resulted in prosecutions.

Growing pressure from international donors for more transparency in public resource management led to changing the appointment process for directors of finance and equipment across many ministries. As a result, in March 2017, the Minister of Economy and Finances dismissed 15 Directors of Finance and Equipment. Eighteen others were moved to other ministries. The government opened OCLEI in 2017 to combat illicit enrichment by government officials. OCLEI has the authority to collect asset declarations from public servants, to conduct investigations of government officials suspected of corruption, and to refer cases for prosecution if sufficient evidence is gathered against the defendant. However, OCLEI’s operations were suspended following civil servants’ union protests against asset declaration requirements. Negotiations between the unions, the government, and donors eventually yielded a satisfactory solution that enabled the office to resume operations, and the office has begun registering asset declarations for certain categories of civil servants. According to its 2017-2018 report, OCLEI received asset declarations from approximately 1,000 civil servants (nearly 70 percent of all civil servants in Mali are subject to assets declaration) over 2017-2018 and referred three suspected cases of corruption to the justice system. However, OCLEI came under significant pressure in 2020 when Mali’s main workers union requested the government close OCLEI.

Following a cabinet reshuffle in 2019, the newly appointed Minister of Justice took measures to address corruption by appointing a new prosecutor in the Economic and Financial Specialized Judicial Office of Bamako, a court in charge of prosecution of corruption. Since these changes, many high-profile business and political leaders have been arrested due to corruption allegations. In 2021, Mali’s Auditor General released 11 financial audit reports, two performance audit reports, four reports of conformity, and four reports on the level of implementation of recommendations it made in previous audit reports. The Auditor General refers cases of fraud or other unlawful practices to the Economic and Financial Specialized Judicial Office of Bamako. Since the beginning of the transition government in 2020, reports from the Auditor General have led to the arrest of many high-profile former government officials for alleged involvement in corruption business dealings. Though these are welcome developments for some observers, others have highlighted the political motivations behind these arrests and the failure of the judicial branch to prosecute them properly and in a timely manner. In sum, the results of recent anti-corruption efforts remain a mixed bag.

In September 2021, the National Transition Council (CNT) passed the law on the creation of the national court dedicated to combating economic and financial crimes. The Act amends provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code and provides the legal basis for establishing a much-needed institution to prosecute economic and financial crimes wherever they occur in Mali.  The new Criminal Procedure Code established three specialized anti-corruption chambers under the jurisdictions of appellate courts in Kayes, Bamako, and Mopti.

The new, national anti-corruption court establishes a comprehensive system to fight corruption and to coordinate across numerous specialized agencies such as CENTIF, OCLEI, and BVG. It is also the single judicial point of contact for economic and financial crimes with authority to liaise on cooperation requests for international mutual assistance on corruption related criminal matters.

Mali’s transition authorities have prioritized messaging about anti-corruption and the need for enhanced financial transparency in governance. The creation of a national anti-corruption court that is professionally staffed and empowered to aggressively prosecute economic and financial crimes is an important step toward real progress on this issue.

10. Political and Security Environment

The U.S. Department of State’s Fact Sheet on Mali is available at The current Travel Advisory for Mali is available at

Throughout nearly three decades of multi-party democracy, Mali has consistently encouraged private enterprise and investment. However, the destabilizing effects of Mali’s 2012 coup d’état led to a deterioration of the economic situation and uncertainty in the investment climate. The August 2020 coup d’état and the May 2021 consolidation of military power have plunged the country into political uncertainty and instability, further exacerbating existing challenges. Mali remains under transition government rule, although ECOWAS and other international organizations maintain pressure on the government to organize elections in a timely manner. Mali continues to face significant political and security challenges amidst slow implementation of a peace agreement signed in 2015 that aims to resolve the ongoing conflict in northern Mali. A disparate group of signatory armed groups, militias, bandits, and terrorist groups continue to exert influence in wide swathes of Mali’s largely ungoverned northern areas as well as central Mali. Furthermore, terrorist groups have increased the frequency and range of their attacks—particularly against the base camps of the UN peacekeeping mission (MINUSMA) and the Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) in northern and central Mali—in an effort to destabilize the country. The situation in central Mali—namely in the Segou and Mopti regions—is increasingly unstable due to intercommunal conflict, localized political violence, and the incursion of extremist groups into the region.

Terrorist groups with varying degrees of allegiance to al-Qaeda and ISIS operate in Mali, and often pursue local agendas complementary to these global extremist movements. Groups linked to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which have merged under the banner of Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM), continued to conduct terrorist attacks throughout 2021, primarily targeting international and Malian military forces. These groups have claimed responsibility for recent gun and improvised explosives attacks, kidnappings, and other violent actions in northern and central Mali.

While the MINUSMA peacekeeping effort is still present in Mali, in February French authorities declared their intent to remove troops from the country. Malian security forces have undertaken counterterrorism operations in the central and the tri-border region since November 2021. However, they have been unable to counter every threat, and in many cases they are accused of targeting civilians. In March of this year, extremist groups attacked FAMa in Mondoro, resulting in dozens of dead, including among FAMa. The UN peacekeepers’ northern base camps are often targeted by terrorist groups. Attacks by violent extremist groups have moved beyond the traditional conflict zone in northern Mali to central and southern Mali, where many villages are controlled by extremist groups who prevent farmers from growing crops, destroy planted crops, and impose zakat. The tri-border area (the border with Burkina Faso and Niger) and some remote parts of southern Mali are increasingly under threat of attack.

While Malian forces, backed by MINUSMA and French forces, had taken steps to reassert control over most of the major cities, much of northern and central Mali remain unstable, with large swaths of the country outside state control. AQIM, long entrenched in northeastern Mali, remains a threat. AQIM has demonstrated a pattern of kidnapping hostages for ransom and launching operations against neighboring Algeria, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, and Niger. AQIM and its local affiliates have been involved in various terrorist attacks targeting Westerners in Mali, including at a restaurant in Bamako in March 2015; at a hotel frequented by foreigners in Sevare in August 2015; against the Radisson Blu Hotel in Bamako in November 2015; and against the Campement de Kangaba hotel in June 2017.

While previous extremist attacks have generally spared foreign companies, aside from hotels and restaurants, some attacks have targeted infrastructure projects involving foreign companies. In October 2017, extremists attacked a foreign company in charge of the construction of a road in Timbuktu and destroyed several vehicles. In March 2018, terrorists attacked and destroyed a USD 66 million dam construction project in Djenne. In April 2020, extremist groups carried out attacks in the southwestern region of Kayes, Mali’s gold-mining region. In 2021, extremist groups attacked mobile companies’ infrastructure in different areas of northern Mali, resulting in facility damage and service interruptions. In September 2021, a mining company convoy accompanied by Malian security forces was attacked by terrorists on the road from Bamako to Kayes, resulting in at least five deaths. While Malian armed forces have increased pressure on extremist groups, observers consider that the departure of the French forces may result in increased security challenges, including from signatories of the Algiers Peace Accord.

U.S. citizens living or traveling in Mali are encouraged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at to receive security messages and make it easier to be located in an emergency.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

Labor is widely available in Mali, but companies have reported skilled labor is in short supply. Reliable unemployment data is difficult to obtain. While a 2021 survey by the transition government found an unemployment rate of 6.1 percent, the actual figure is likely much higher. The rate is generally higher for youth between the ages of 15-24, coming in at 9.9 percent according to the government’s 2021 survey. Workers have the right to unionize. Relations between labor and management are often contentious and strikes are common. The government has ratified all International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions protecting the rights of workers.

Since June 2014, the government faced several strikes led by different unions, including the national union of workers (UNTM), the union of university and basic education professors, the union of workers from the tax office, the union of workers of the national radio and television company, the confederation of unions (CSTM), the union of judges, and the union of health workers. Since its inauguration in September 2020, the transition government has also faced a series of strikes across sectors. The private sector also participates in strikes, as seen in 2015, 2017, and 2022, which have affected banking, finance, and telecommunications companies. While employers and workers are often able to reach a resolution, strikes can significantly disrupt economic activities, particularly when they involve key sectors like transportation or the financial sector. The labor code adopted in 1992 (amended in December 2011, in June 2017, and in July 2019) streamlined hiring and firing procedures. Conflicts often arise when employers terminate contracts and fire employees. Large Malian and international employers have had difficulty enforcing their rights in court, given that powerful and independent labor unions play an important role in supporting their members and in other national affairs. Compensation plan negotiations and firing procedures are time-consuming and closely scrutinized by the Ministry of Labor and the judiciary. Labor laws differentiate between layoffs and firing. Employees who are laid off are not entitled to unemployment compensation but are entitled to other benefits, including one-month gross salary and compensation for untaken leave. Employers are required to provide advance notice and a certificate to laid off employees. Although not a requirement, it is advisable to have regular contacts with labor inspectors, especially when concluding new hiring contracts or considering terminations or reductions in force.

Child labor and trafficking in persons continue to be serious problems in Mali. The ILO reports over 46 percent of children in Mali engage in child labor, including the worst forms of child labor such as child soldiering and hazardous activities in the agriculture and gold mining sectors. A 2021 transition government survey reported 11.6 percent of children between 5 and 17 years old are employed. The survey suggests the prevalence of child labor depends on the age, with 20 percent of children between the age of 10 and 17 years old being employed, compared with 2.5 percent of children aged 5 to 9 years old. Cotton, artisanal gold, and rice are included on the U.S. government’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor. Additionally, rice is included on the U.S. government’s Executive Order 13126 List of Goods Produced by Forced and Indentured Child Labor. The government has action plans for monitoring child labor and unsafe working conditions. Labor inspection entities, however, are underfunded and unable to regularly conduct inspections or provide support for victims of violations. In June 2017, Mali amended its labor code to align Malian law on the minimum age of employment with the ILO standard, increasing the minimum age of employment from 14 up to 15. The amended labor law bans discrimination based on religion, race, or gender. It also requires equality in terms of remuneration and forbids forced and compulsory labor.

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