Executive Summary

Mali faces significant obstacles including electricity access, infrastructure, and corruption, as well as drug trafficking and smuggling challenges, primarily in the northern and central conflict-affected portion of the country. Instability in the northern and central regions has permitted terrorist groups to conduct attacks against Westerners and Malian government forces. This instability, initially concentrated in the North, has extended to Mali’s center where terrorist groups are taking advantage of the minimal presence of Malian authorities and security forces. Frequent deadly clashes between livestock farmers and crop farmers are exacerbating the situation. Both Malian and foreign businesses face corruption in procurement, importation and export of products, tax payment, administrative processing, and land management. Concerns exist about the government’s ability to hold the presidential, legislative, and communal elections scheduled for 2018 due to the state’s limited presence and the security challenges in the center and the north. Despite the government’s insistence that it will hold the presidential election in July 2018, many political leaders have expressed their concerns regarding the government’s capacity to sufficiently restore security and administer the presidential election.

After a tumultuous period in 2012 with slowing economic growth and heightened insecurity, Mali’s economy is currently on the upswing with over 5 percent growth each year since 2014. The government developed a new regulatory framework for public private partnerships and hopes to welcome investors in the infrastructure, telecommunication, service, mining, and agricultural sectors. As a nation with development challenges, Mali continues to depend upon multilateral financial institutions including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, African Development Bank and bilateral donors for funding various development projects, mainly in health, infrastructure, education, and agricultural sectors. Local banks have a conservative lending strategy, but are beginning to increase their lending portfolios. At the same time, the investment climate is benefiting from the financial and economic reform processes that accompany this institutional lending.

Thanks in part to the strong bilateral relationship between the United States and Mali, the Malian private sector considers U.S. products to be high quality reliable goods and openly searches for new business partnerships with U.S. firms. Mali’s strong economy (projected to grow at 5 percent in 2018) and eagerness to attract foreign investment provide an investment destination to be considered for U.S. companies.

Table 1

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2017 122 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business” 2017 143 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2017 118 of 127 https://www.globalinnovation
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, stock positions) 2016 USD 1.0 http://www.bea.gov/
World Bank GNI per capita 2016 USD 770 http://data.worldbank.org/

Policies Toward Foreign Direct Investment

Mali generally encourages foreign investment. Foreign and domestic investments receive equal treatment. The structural adjustment facility agreements signed between the IMF/World Bank and Mali since 1992 support foreign investment. The government’s national strategy to fight poverty as presented to the IMF, World Bank, and other donors emphasizes the role of the private sector in developing the economy. Mali adopted a Strategic Framework for Economic Recovery and Sustainable Development for 2016-2018, “le Cadre Stratégique pour la Relance Economique et le Développement Durable “, (CREDD). Emphasizing peace, security, and macroeconomic stability, the CREDD hopes to strengthen economic growth, institutional development, governance, and the provision of basic social services. Mali created an office in charge of Business Climate Reforms (Cellule Technique de la Réforme du Climat des Affaires – CTRCA), tasked with developing an action plan for improving the business environment. In 2015, Mali also created a committee comprised of both government and private business for Monitoring Business Environment Reforms. Mali is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), which aim to reduce trade barriers, harmonize monetary policy, and create a common market.

The Malian government has instituted policies promoting direct investment and export-oriented businesses. Foreign investors go through the same screening process as domestic investors. Criteria for granting authorization under the 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 maintains a one-stop shop for prospective investors, the Agence pour la Promotion de l’Investissement (Agency for the Promotion of Investment). A new law on public-private partnerships approved by the National Assembly is supposed to reinforce the framework to attract foreign and domestic investment in a multitude of sectors. Mali’s ranking slightly decreased in the World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business Report to 143 of 190 economies (down from 141 of 190 economies in the previous ranking).

In 2011, the government created the Agency to Promote Exports from Mali (APEX-Mali) to promote and encourage export-oriented activities. APEX-Mali is fully functional. The Government of Mali has also revitalized an African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) committee to encourage exports to the United States. The AGOA committee elaborated the National AGOA Strategy in order to reinforce the capacity of Malian exporters regarding the opportunities provided by AGOA.

Additional information can be found in the 2017 Doing Business Report on Mali:http://www.doingbusiness.org/data/exploreeconomies/mali 

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

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. For example, foreign investors in the mining sector can own up to 90 percent of a mining company. Foreign investors in the media companies must have a 50 percent or lower ownership stake. The West African Economic and Monetary Union requires Malian and foreign companies to report if they will hold foreign currency reserves in their Malian business accounts and receive approval from the Ministry of Finance and the Central Bank for West African States (BCEAO).

U.S. investors face the same challenges as other foreign investors including allegedly unfair application of tax collection laws, difficulties clearing goods through customs, as well as requests for bribes. Corruption in the judiciary is pervasive and foreign companies often find themselves at a disadvantage vis-à-vis Malian investors in enforcing contracts and competing for public procurement tenders.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Information not available.

Business Facilitation

The Agency for Investment Promotion (API) is Mali’s one-stop shop to facilitate business and to promote foreign and local investments. Serving both Malian and foreign enterprises of all sizes, API has become a strong source of potential support for U.S. investors.

API’s website provides copious information ranging from business registration, tax payment, access to social security, trade regulations, land ownership procedures, visa and residence permit regulations, and information on tax exemptions, special economic zones (free zone), recruitment of personnel, and connecting to water and electricity utilities.

Foreign companies, regardless of size, wishing to register in Mali can receive tax and customs benefits depending on the size of investment. Small and medium sized enterprises, for which the size definition varies across ministries, are also eligible for fiscal advantages. The GOM is in the process of harmonizing its registration advantages. There is no discrimination based on gender, age, and ethnicity in the process of business registration.

The Agency for Investment Promotion’s website is: http://www.apimali.gov.ml/ 

Additional information on Mali’s online business registration processes is available at https://ger.co/ 

Outward Investment

The GOM has no policy to promote outgoing investment. A few Malian companies invest in neighboring countries and in France.

Mali is a member of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID Convention). Mali has signed 19 Bilateral Investment Treaties. However, only 8 have been ratified by Mali’s National Assembly and are in force: with Algeria, Canada, China, Egypt, Germany, Morocco, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. Additional information can be found at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s website: http://investmentpolicyhub.unctad.org/ .

There are no trade agreements between Mali and the United States; however, Mali is eligible for the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), signed into law on May 18, 2000 as Title 1 of The Trade and Development Act of 2000, offers tangible incentives for African countries to continue their efforts to open their economies and build free markets. Mali began AGOA eligibility on October 2, 2000. However, after the March 2012 coup d’état, the annual review panel suspended Mali’s AGOA eligibility, effective January 1, 2013. Following the inauguration of the democratically elected government, President Obama reestablished Mali’s AGOA eligibility, on January 1, 2014. Very few Malian exporters are able to adhere to AGOA’s technical requirements and sanitary and phytosanitary measures related to trade, so very few are able to take advantage of AGOA, despite the creation of an AGOA committee and the elaboration of a national AGOA strategy.

Bilateral Taxation Treaties

Mali does not have a bilateral taxation treaty with the United States.

Transparency of the Regulatory System

As reflected in agreements with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, the Government of Mali has adopted a generally transparent regulatory policy and laws to foster competition. The commerce, labor, and competition laws are designed to meet the requirements of fair competition, to ease bureaucratic procedures, and to facilitate the hiring and firing of employees. In practice, however, the regulatory system is not transparent and international firms have had trouble enforcing regulatory requirements to the detriment of their business prospects. The investment code simplifies the application process to establish a business, and favors investments that promote handicrafts, exports, and labor-intensive businesses. There is, however, no public comment period or opportunity for citizens or businesses to comment upon proposed laws. The World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business Report notes that it takes an average of five procedures and 8.5 days to establish a business in Mali. The GOM publishes the incorporation notices of new companies on the official website of the one-stop-shop, the Agency for the Promotion of Investments. The Mining Code encourages investments in small and medium mining enterprises, awards two-year exploration permits free of charge, and does not require a commitment from the exploring firm to lease the area explored thereafter. Mali is 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 organization or associations.

Mali is a member of UNCTAD’s international network of transparent investment procedures (http://mali.eregulations.org /). Foreign and national investors can find detailed information on administrative procedures applicable to investment and income generating operations including the number of steps, the type of companies to be created, required documents and conditions, costs, processing time, legal references, payment of taxes, access to lands and properties, getting a visa or a residence permit, subscribing to insurance, social protection, borrowing from microfinance institutions, and intellectual property-related issues.

The Regulatory Authority for Public Transactions (Autorité de Regulation des Marchés Publics et des Delegations des Services Publics (ARMDS)) ensures transparency in public procurement projects and can hear complaints from businesses on public procurement related issues. It makes its decisions available on its website as well as the key laws relating to public procurement.

International Regulatory Considerations

The investment code allows a foreign company that has a signed agreement with the government to refer to international arbitration any case that the local courts are unable to resolve.

Mali is a member of the African Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law (OHADA) and has ratified the 1993 treaty creating the Joint Arbitration Court. OHADA has a provision allowing litigation between foreign companies and domestic companies or with the government to be tried in an appellate court outside of Mali. Mali has been a member of the World Bank Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) since 1990.

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Mali is a member state to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID Convention). Mali also signed and ratified the Convention of the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitrage Awards (1958 New York Convention).

Duration of Dispute Resolution – Local Courts

The dispute resolution process can take multiple years and is often fraught with corruption, political influence, and demands for payments to facilitate the legal process.

Mali has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1995. 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 (TRIMs)

Investors frequently complain that bureaucratic burdens, bribery, and rent-seeking behaviors undermine their efforts to implement concrete projects. Since 2008, the Tax Office and a mining company transferred several cases relating to six fiscal years (2008-2013) to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). The ICSID ruled in the mining company’s favor. However, the GOM then started investigating other years and reassessing the company’s tax bill for those years, whether as retaliation or as part of a government-wide tightening of tax collection it is unclear. In October 2016, the situation worsened when the GOM closed the mining company’s office in Bamako as a result of the company protesting the new tax bills. Under pressure by the Tax Office, the mining company finally agreed to pay a part of the assessments claimed by the Tax Office in order to reopen its office, but continues to contest the legality of the decision.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

Mali’s legal system is based on civil law. Mali uses its Investment Code, Commerce Code, Labor Code, and the Code on Competition and Price to govern disputes. Mali is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA) whose member countries use a standardized accounting system and business law. Ownership of property is defined by the use, the profitability, and the ability of the owner to sell or donate the property. Disputes occasionally arise between the government or state-owned enterprises and foreign companies. Some cases involve wrongdoing on the part of companies and/or corrupt government officials.

Although Mali’s judicial system is theoretically independent, it has been subject to political influences. Numerous business complaints are awaiting an outcome in the courts. Judges and prosecutors’ career paths depend on the Minister of Justice, and hence their independence is compromised. The judicial system is believed to be infested by corruption that leads to flawed decisions.

In November 1991, an independent commercial court was established 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 (IPR) cases. In areas where there is no commercial court, the Local Courts of First Instance have the jurisdiction to hear business disputes. 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 that the court renders decisions in accordance with applicable commercial laws, including internationally recognized bankruptcy laws, and that court decisions are enforced under Malian law.

The Local Courts of First Instance have the jurisdiction to hear business disputes. The Courts of First Instance decisions are appealable in the Court of Appeal and/or in the Supreme Court.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

The 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. The government has reduced or eliminated many export taxes and import duties as part of ongoing economic reforms; however, export taxes remain for gold and cotton. Further information can be found in the 2000 Decree # 00-505 and in the Customs Code (see article 20: https://www.a-mla.org/masteract/download/149 ). The government applies price controls to petroleum products and cotton, and occasionally to other commodities, such as rice, on a case-by-case basis.

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.

In most cases, foreign investors can own 100 percent of any business they create, except in the mining and media sectors. They can also purchase shares in parastatal companies the state has privatized or in other local 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 face a myriad of challenges in practice. The most important of these include low access to financing, high level of corruption, poor infrastructure (including inconsistent electricity), a non-transparent judicial system, and the lack of an educated workforce.

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

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce is in charge of reviewing free competition in the Malian market place. Order 2007, Decree 2008, and the WAEMU 2002 rules on anti-trust are the primary judicial documents that govern competition. The Tribunal of Commerce and the Regulatory Authority for Public Transactions (ARMDS) are the primary judicial bodies that oversee competition-related concerns.

Expropriation and Compensation

Expropriation of private property other than land for public purposes is rare. The Malian government has not unfairly targeted U.S. firms for expropriation. By Malian law, the expropriation process should 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: undertaking large-scale public projects; in cases of bankrupt companies that have 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 2000 and 2012, the government expropriated land near the Bamako city airport for air safety reasons. Notifications of the expropriation were sent via direct mail and published in public and private media, and prior owners were compensated according to Malian law. In 2010 and 2011, the government expropriated private land on the outskirts of Bamako for the construction of low and medium income housing. The prior owners have initiated a legal case against the government, arguing that housing projects should not be considered large-scale public works projects. The government settled the case by compensating previous owners. In cases of illegal expropriations, Malian law affords claimants due process in principle. However, given the vast corruption in the land administration sector, fair court cases are rare.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Mali is a member state to the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID Convention). Mali also signed and ratified the Convention of the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitrage Awards (1958 New York Convention).

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Mali is a member of the African Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law (OHADA) and has ratified the 1993 treaty creating the Joint Arbitration Court. OHADA has a provision allowing litigation between foreign companies and domestic companies or with the government to be tried in an appellate court outside of Mali. Mali has been a member of the World Bank Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) since 1990. It has concluded numerous bilateral investments treaties and investment protection guarantee agreements. The U.S. Government concluded an agreement with the GOM on Private Investments Guaranty in 1964.

Despite the official agreements, U.S. investors have complained about unfair practices. In 2013, an American company that was contracted to complete the MCC-funded airport renovation filed a case against the Government of Mali at the Paris Arbitration Court regarding an alleged breach of contract. The case is pending.

After 5 months of negotiations regarding a contract of 30 MW to be implemented by a U.S. company, the Malian state-owned utility company cancelled the project in January 2017 with neither any justification nor the authorization of the Malian Public Procurement Regulatory Office. While the details of the GOM’s handling of this case appear suspicious, it is one of numerous unfair treatments U.S. companies have faced in Mali.

In 2015, a U.S. company’s bid for an engineering oversight project regarding the renovation of the airport was unjustly disqualified. The Authority of Regulation of Public Procurements (ARMDS) also rejected the US company complaint, stating the company did not wait a requisite 72 hours before contacting the authority. The company elevated the complaint to the Administrative Chamber of the Malian Supreme Court, where the case now rests indefinitely.

Another U.S. energy company spent three years trying to negotiate a power purchasing agreement with the GOM regarding a 15 MW hydroelectric plant in Markala. When the government changed, the new Minister involved with the project requested a new impact study which was redundant, costly, and unnecessary. The GOM has since reissued the tender which the U.S. company had believed it had won and the U.S. company gave up on the project. Stories of such delays are commonplace. Many companies have spent considerable time developing relationships with high-level government officials, time that felt wasted once the government reshuffled itself, as it does frequently.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

At the first instance, the companies are supposed to undertake amicable negotiations before engaging the Authority of Regulation of Public Procurements (ARMDS) or the courts. Failure to reach an out-of-court agreement will lead to the case being transferred to the court of first instance, the court of commerce, or international arbitration. The decisions of foreign courts are enforced as long as specified and recognized by Malian Laws. In 2016, the government of Mali paid USD 26 million to a foreign mining company pursuant to ICSID’s decision. Court decisions in Mali are frequently based more on corruption and political interference rather than legal merit.

Bankruptcy Regulations

Mali’s bankruptcy law is found in its Commerce Code, which does not criminalize bankruptcy. According to data collected by the World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business Report, resolving insolvency takes 3.6 years on average and costs 18 percent of the debtor’s estate. Generally, the company will be sold piecemeal. The average recovery rate is 28 cents on the dollar. Mali adopted a law on credit bureau in order to comply with an order of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) aiming at improving the business environment by reducing information asymmetry between banks and borrowers, based on voluntary adherence of individuals and companies.

Investment Incentives

The investment, mining, commerce, and labor codes have the stated intention of encouraging investment and attracting foreign investors. Mali has privatized a number of state-owned enterprises, and foreign companies have responded successfully to calls for bids in several cases. 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.

Most businesses are located in the capital city of Bamako, and the investment code encourages the establishment of new businesses in other areas. Incentives include 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.

The National Assembly approved a revised petroleum code in June 2004. The law allows an initial period of four years for prospecting, renewable for two successive periods of three years each. A 2008 amendment allows the government to expand the prospecting period for two additional years during the initial or successive phases. Prospecting and exploitation permits, as well as their renewal, are subject to the payment of fixed taxes ranging from one million to ten million FCFA (USD 1,650 to USD 16,500). In addition, while prospecting permit holders remain liable for the payment of taxes ranging from FCFA 500 – 2,500 (USD 0.85-5.00) per square kilometer and taxes of FCFA 1,000,000 (USD 1,650) per square kilometer during exploitation. Permit holders and the companies associated with those permit holders are subject to a 35 percent tax on net profits. In 2004, the GOM created a marketing office for petroleum exploration, l’Autorité pour la Promotion de la Recherche Pétrolière, or AUREP. This agency drafts, plans, and implements oil research programs, and collects data on oil reserves. Private sector petroleum investors should meet with AUREP when beginning work.

The government has identified priority sectors for furthering economic development. Special incentives are offered for investment in the following areas:

  • Agribusiness
  • Fishing and fish processing
  • Livestock and forestry
  • Mining and metallurgical industries
  • Water and energy production industries
  • Tourism and hotel industries
  • Communication
  • Housing development
  • Transportation
  • Human and animal health promotion enterprises
  • Vocational and technical training enterprises
  • Cultural promotion enterprises

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

By law, there is no discrimination between foreign-owned firms and Malian entities with regard to investment opportunities. Companies (domestic or foreign) 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 they need for their operations. To date, there are no dedicated free trade zones in Mali. The GOM encourages the cultural sector by reducing taxes on cultural goods imports. Imports of solar energy materials also benefit from special tax treatment. Short-term tax exemptions are provided by the GOM during periods of high prices of essential products. Up until now, customs agents have accepted letters from Ministers exempting favored parties from exemptions. The IMF is working with the GOM to stop this arbitrary exemption practice, including by explicitly making it illegal and instructing Customs to disregard any future letters.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

There is no requirement that Malian nationals own shares in a foreign investment or that foreign equity be reduced over time. Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA) regulations specify that a company with less than 35 percent government equity is legally considered a private company.

Real Property

Property rights are protected by law in Mali. According to data collected by the World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business Report, registering property in Mali requires 5 steps, takes 29 days, and costs 11.1 percent of the property value. Mali scored 8 against 8.6 for other Sub-Sahara African countries and 22.7 for OECD countries in the quality of land administration index, 0 being the worst score and 30 the best. The government established the Malian Center for the Promotion of Industrial Property and charged it with implementing the legal regime of property rights protection, including the World Trade Organization (WTO) TRIPS agreements. This agency is a member of the African Property Rights Organization (IAPO) and works with international agencies recognized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Patents, copyrights, and trademarks are covered.

These structures notwithstanding, property rights are not always adequately protected in practice. For example, a U.S. manufacturer had been mired in a three-year long legal battle with a Chinese company that was accused of infringing on the U.S. companies’ trademark rights. In spite of a favorable ruling by the Supreme Court, the case was remanded to a lower court in 2010, and the U.S. Company decided not to pursue the case further.

According to the National Land Agency ( DNDC), there are three types of land property classifications in Mali. There is a land title (le titre foncier), which gives full property ownership to an individual. Secondly, there is a permit for occupying that one receives after paying a fee (permis d’occuper), but not full ownership. Lastly, there are farming rights given to rural agricultural communities. All non-registered lands belong to the State. Various government entities including prefets, mayors, governors, and the Land Ministry officials are able to allocate land ownership statuses.

The current lack of a nationwide land registry causes competing claims for land. As different government structures at the local, regional, and national level are involved in land administration, investors and communities often encounter multiple attributions of the same land. As a result, frequent conflicts occur because of opaque land registration. In June 2015, the Minister of Land ordered the demolition of fifty houses built on land belonging to a real estate company in the locality of Souleymanebougou. More recently, the government ordered the demolition of houses built in lands allocated by the state for the construction of housing projects.

Intellectual Property Rights

There are two primary agencies involved with the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR): the Malian Office of the Rights of the Author (BUMDA) and the Malian Center for the Promotion of Intellectual Property (CEMAPI). The CEMAPI is the primary agency for industrial property rights violation claims, while the BUMDA covers artistic and cultural works.

In 2014, the GOM adopted a National Strategy for the Development of Intellectual Property Rights (SNDPI). However, the strategy has been insufficiently funded and thus implementation has been minimal. Despite limited progress with a National Strategy, IPR have been weakened and are the object of fierce debate. In February 2015, The Supreme Court cancelled an Executive Order on Copyrights, which sought to update copyright laws to include modern technology. The National Council of Malian Businessmen considered this Executive Order to be too broad in that it created royalties, which were interpreted by the business community to be taxes on cybercafés, phone companies, and internet downloading sites. The Council of Ministers adopted in March 2016 a new draft law related to IPR with the support of well-known artists. The new draft law on IPR is a result of a dialogue between the Government of Mali, the National Council of Employers, and artists associations. The law builds upon consensus of international norms including the Beijing Treaty of June 24, 2004 (rights on interpretations and executions of audiovisual works), the Marrakech Treaty of June 27, 2013 relating to the access to printed texts for visually impaired, and the fourth meeting of regional copyrights observatory of ECOWAS held in Banjul on May 2013. More broadly, the law determines the conditions of protecting and exploiting works of art, license-fee, sanctions, and remunerations. The National Assembly voted to approve a number of these international treaties related to IPR in 2016.

There are significant 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. Each week the BUMDA conducts search and seizures of markets for pirated artistic products. On average, the BUMDA inspectors seize three to four thousand CDs each week. Movies and books are also pirated. Children are often involved in selling counterfeit products such as clothes, CDs, and books. In the past counterfeit products were imported from foreign cities including from Guangzhou, China and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. However, BUMNDA has seen a shift in the type of counterfeit product to ones being produced in Mali and Nigeria.

Mali is not listed on the USTR’s 2017 Out-Of-Cycle Review of Notorious Markets, or in the 2018 Special 301 Report. For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ .

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/  .

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

The West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) statutes and the BCEAO (the West African Central Bank) determine the banking system and monetary policy in Mali. BCEAO headquarters are located in Dakar, Senegal. Commercial banks enjoy considerable liquidity. 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. In spite of 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 difficulty obtaining access to credit.

In order to strengthen the banking sector, WAEMU raised the minimum stockholders equity capital required of banks and financial institutions to FCFA 10 billion (USD 16.5 million) and FCFA 3 billion (USD 5 million) by a date still to be determined by the regional WAEMU Council of Ministers. The first step of this measure consisted of increasing the minimum stockholders equity capital requirement to FCFA 5 billion (USD 8.2 million) for banks and FCFA 1 billion (USD 2.5 million) for financial institutions by the end of 2010. WAEMU has made it a requirement for any new banks and financial institutions in the region to abide by the increased minimum stockholders equity requirement. This measure has had mixed results in Mali. Of the 96 banks surveyed by the Banking Commission of the WAEMU, 82 met the new measures (85 percent). In Mali, however, eight out of fourteen banks met the criterion (57 percent).

Portfolio investment is not a current practice, although the legal and accounting systems are transparent enough and are similar to the French system. 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 the bonds might 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 programs of the electric company EDM, the telecommunications entity, cotton ginning company CMDT, and the Bamako-Senou Airport offer prospects for some companies to be listed on the WAEMU stock exchange.

The Government of Mali first participated in the Sovereign Credit Rating Program in 2002, sponsored by the U.S. government. As part of this program, Fitch Ratings won a competitive contract to conduct the ratings. The U.S. Treasury Department provided technical assistance to the Malian Ministry of Economy and Finance with the support of the U.S. Department of State. Fitch completed its evaluation in 2004 and awarded a B- to Mali. Parallel to this effort, Standard and Poor’s awarded Mali a BBB- rating in 2005 through a UNDP-funded program. Standard and Poor’s has not rated Mali since 2005. In December 2009, Fitch Ratings affirmed Mali’s long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) at B- with Stable Outlooks, Country Ceiling at BBB-, and short-term foreign currency IDR at B. After completion of the State Department-sponsored rating program, Fitch announced in December 2009 it would no longer provide rating or analytical coverage of Mali, and all ratings have been withdrawn. As of 2018, there has been no new rating for Mali.

Mali’s IDR of B- reflects the country’s high level of poverty, vulnerability to external shocks and slow economic growth. Mali consistently runs a current account deficit, due to its high dependence on energy imports and low export base. Fitch does not expect any improvement in Mali’s creditworthiness in the medium to long term. However, the country’s external situation is not a constraint, as Mali is part of the West African Economic and Monetary Union: the FCFA is pegged to the Euro and the French Treasury guarantees its convertibility.

Money and Banking System

Since the devaluation of the FCFA in 1994, eight new banks have opened in Mali: Ecobank (1998), BICI-M (1998), BMS (2002), BSIC (2003), Banque Atlantique (2005), Banque pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (2007), Orabank of Cote d’Ivoire (2013), and Coris Bank International (December 2013). During the past three years of available data, the return on equity for the banking sector was 13 percent in 2013, 12 percent in 2014, and 15 percent in 2015. The total assets of the 14 banks and the three financial institutions in Mali were FCFA 3, 840 billion (USD 6.3 billion) as of December 2015.

In order to improve the business environment and soundness of the financial system, the Central Bank of West African Countries decided to adopt a Uniform Law on Credit Reference Bureau. The GOM decided to align its legislation on the regional requirement by authorizing the Credit Reference Bureau, whose activities include collecting and processing information from financial institutions, public sources, water and electricity companies, etc. to create the credit record of citizens. The collected information is supposed to be treated and commercialized by these companies upon the agreement of clients. The system is also supposed to increase the solvency of borrowers and to improve access to credit. Nonperforming loans represented 14.5 percent of total loans in December 2015.

The microfinance sector has grown rapidly. From 2000 to 2013, the number of new branches operated by microfinance institutions has increased from 342 to 700 and the number of beneficiaries from 253,705 to over 1 million. The stock of deposits of microfinance institutions grew from FCFA 14 billion (USD 23 million) to FCFA 53 billion (USD 87 million), and the stock of credit grew from FCFA 16 billion (USD 26 million) to FCFA 60 billion (nearly USD 100 million) over the 2000 to 2013 period. 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.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange Policies

The Malian investment code allows the foreign transfer and conversion of funds associated with investments, including profits. As a West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) member, Mali uses the Franc of the Financial Community of Africa (FCFA) as its currency. Linked to the Euro, the FCFA is fully convertible at a rate of Euro 1 = FCFA 655.957 as of April 2018. No parallel conversion market exists as the FCFA is a fully convertible currency supported by the French treasury, which ensures a fixed rate of exchange. The FCFA has not been devalued since January 1994.

The CFA franc zone consists of 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, each affiliated with one of two monetary unions. Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte D’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo comprise the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, and Gabon comprise the Central African Economic and Monetary Union, or CAEMC.

As of March 2018, the U.S. dollar exchange rate was 530 FCFA for one U.S. dollar. Local currency exchanges are available at Malian banks.

There are no limits on the inflow or outflow of funds for repatriation of profits, debt service, capital, or capital gains. In the FCFA zone, there is no limit on the export of capital provided that an exporter has adequate documentation to support a transaction and the exporter meets the domiciliation requirement. Most commercial banks have direct investments in western capital markets.

To physically carry foreign currency into the WAEMU zone, non-WAEMU residents need to declare currency valued in excess of 1 million FCFA (USD 1650). For export, non-WAEMU residents must declare values upwards of 500,000 FCFA (USD 825) in foreign reserves.

Article 12 of the Malian Investment Code of 2012 states that foreign investors are authorized to transfer abroad, without any authorization, all payments relating to business operations in Mali (this includes net profits, interest, dividends, income, allowances, savings of expatriated salaried employees). The capital and financial transactions (such as buying and selling stocks, assets, and compensation from expropriation) are free to transfer abroad but are subject to declaration requirements to the Ministry of Finance. These transfers must be done through authorized intermediaries such as banks or financial institutions).

Remittance Policies

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 can be found at: http://www.giaba.org/reports/mutual-evaluation/Mali.html 

Although Mali’s Anti-Money Laundering Law designates a number of reporting entities, very few comply with their legal obligations. While businesses are technically required to report cash transactions over approximately USD 10,000, most do not. Despite the operation of a number of al-Qaida-linked terrorist and armed groups in northern Mali, the country’s Financial Intelligence Unit, the National Information Processing Unit (CENTIF) receives relatively few suspicious transaction reports (STRs) 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. The U.S. Department of State’s Financial Action Task Force (FATF) considers Mali as a “monitored” country. Additional information is available at http://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2015/vol2/index.htm

Sovereign Wealth Funds

Mali does not have a sovereign wealth fund.

Private and public enterprises compete under the same terms and conditions. No preferential treatment is given to State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), although they can be at a competitive disadvantage due to the limited flexibility they have 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.

Mali is in the process of privatizing its SOEs, but a number of SOEs still exist. There are five major state-owned or partially state-owned enterprises: the electricity utility – Energie du Mali (EDM); the telecommunications entity – SOTELMA; a cotton ginning company – CMDT; a cigarette company – SONATAM; and the Bamako-Senou Airport.

The government is active in the agricultural sector: the Niger River Authority (Office du Niger) controls much of the irrigated rice fields and vegetable production in the Niger River inland delta, although more private operators were granted plots of land to develop. Under a Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)-funded irrigation project, Mali granted titles to small private farmers, including women; 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 government is still active in the banking sector. The state owns shares in six of the 14 banks in Mali – BDM (28.6 percent share), BIM (10.5 percent share), BNDA (36.5 percent share), BMS (74.6 percent share), BHM (98 percent share), and BCS (3.3 percent share). While the government no longer has a majority stake in the Malian Development Bank (BDM), it has significant influence over its operations, including the privilege to appoint the head of the Board of Directors.

In addition, the electricity and water company, EDM, remains majority-owned by the government following a failed privatization attempt. Senior government officials from different ministries make up the board 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 the 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 general auditor conducts an annual review of public spending, which may result in the prosecution of specific cases of corruption.

Mali is not party to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Privatization Program

The government’s privatization program for state enterprises provides investment opportunities through a process of open international bidding. The government publishes announcements for bids in the government-owned daily newspaper L’Essor. The process is non-discriminatory: however, there have been many allegations of corruption. In the past several years, the government has privatized parastatal enterprises including the International Bank of Mali (BIM), the telecommunications company, Societé des Telecommunications du Mali (SOTELMA), and Huilerie Cotonnière du Mali (HUICOMA). The Malian government continues to hold shares in the company for cotton production (CMDT) and many other banks. The national electricity company (EDM) is partially owned by the state, however, private investors have recently sought to reduce their ownership share, while the government has considered options to privatize the energy distribution portion of the company.

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 the Quality Promotion (AMANORM) and the National Agency for the Sanitary Security of Foods (ANSSA), Mali continues to produce, import, and export dangerous products and products of poor quality. Violations of hygiene and quality standards are widespread in the food-processing industry and there is no general awareness about the dangers of unsafe and toxic chemical products in food production. Labor rights are not generally observed given the large unregulated informal sector. Even the formal sector often hires workers informally which reduces employee fees such as social security, retirements, and other related benefits.

The GOM has various laws which are intended to protect against child and forced labor and business practices which can harm the environment and local communities. Despite these laws, there are frequent cases of child labor and forced labor in the mining, agricultural, services, 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 also voiced concern with the significant environmental impacts of mine closures because of the lack of government-enforced measures to restore and rehabilitate the environment. 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) since 2007 and since 2011 has been declared as a “compliant country”. The latest EITI’s report available at https://eiti.org/mali#overview  mentions that Mali made “Meaningful progress”.

Corruption is the greatest obstacle for 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. Government officials often solicit bribes in order to complete otherwise routine procedures. The GOM passed laws against the illegal accumulation of wealth in 2013 and 2015. The law, however, does not force members of parliament or the executive to declare their assets. The government has pledged to update the law. In 2016, Transparency International (TI) global corruption ranking for Mali decreased to 116 of 176 from 95 of 168 countries surveyed in 2015. Mali’s perceived public corruption score, as evaluated by Malian citizens is 32 out of 100 with zero being the worst possible score.

Corruption is most pervasive in government procurement and dispute settlement. The government has addressed this by requiring procurement contracts to be inspected by the Directorate General for Public Procurement, which determines whether the procedure meets fairness, price competitiveness, and quality standards. However, there is significant political interference in procurement. Mali’s international donor community has been working with the government to reduce corruption, but progress has been slow.

As evidenced in the above narratives, 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’s Court of Appeal. 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.

The President created the Office of the Auditor General (BVG) in 2004 as an independent agency tasked to audit public spending. Since its inception, the BVG has uncovered several large cases of corruption. However, few have resulted in prosecutions. In 2011, inspectors from the Global Fund for AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria uncovered cases of embezzlement of public and donor funds by officials at the Ministry of Health. The Malian judiciary prosecuted several high-ranking Ministry of Health officials including the Minister of Health who subsequently resigned. However, the trial resulted in an acquittal of the Minister and all 18 co-defendants, due to a lack of evidence.

The BVG is not able to conduct a whole of government audit each year. The BVG’s report of 2014 (released in May 2015) showed that 16 government’s agencies embezzled USD 124 million of public funds. The 2015 report (released in October 2017) revealed USD 126 million of irregularities stemming from fraud and mismanagement, mostly from the Customs office that handles petroleum products. Mali’s annual budget is usually around USD 3 billion. The Cell to Support Financial Control of the Administration declared that 209 reports of corruption were sent to the Ministry of Justice for review and prosecution; however, no cases have been brought to court and successfully prosecuted.

In 2014, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expressed concerns over extra budgetary spending, inadequate transparency, and corruption, which led the IMF to temporarily suspend financial support to Mali in June, with certain donors including the World Bank and the European Union following suit. To address IMF and donor community concerns, the Government of Mali audited the purchase of a controversial presidential airplane and over USD 200 million in bloated defense contracts and has agreed to hold senior government leaders responsible for any acts of corruption. The IMF’s September 2014 follow up review concluded that the Government of Mali had made preliminary efforts to address extra-budgetary expenditures, and as a result, the IMF voted in December 2014 to reestablish financing to Mali. During a January 2015 cabinet reshuffle, the implicated Minister of Economy and Finance and Minister of Investments were replaced, but were shifted into other high-level positions, including in the office of the presidency. Concrete actions remain to be seen on promises to hold government officials accountable for financial mismanagement. The clean bill of health from the IMF has led donors including the World Bank and European Union to resume budgetary support.

Both foreign and domestic companies complain about tax collection as they face harassment by officials seeking bribes. In 2016, the Minister of Finance refused to reimburse a sizeable debt arguing that the lenders failed to provide supporting documents. Many observers contend collusion among government officials and businessmen artificially inflates Mali’s internal debt.

Growing pressure from international donors for more transparency in public resource management led to changing the appointment process of the Directors of Finance and Equipment. As result, in March 2017, the Minister of Finance dismissed fifteen Directors of Finance and Equipment. Eighteen others were moved to other ministries. The GOM decided to create a new office to fight illicit enrichment of public servants. The new office has the authority to receive declarations of assets from public servants, to undertake investigation against government officials suspected of corruption, and to refer for prosecution if sufficient evidence is gathered against the defendant. However, the new office’s operations were suspended following civil servants’ union protests against “the unfair law” to fight against illicit enrichment. Because of this suspension, the IMF was forced to delay releasing the results of its eighth review. Negotiations between the unions, the GOM, and donors eventually yielded a satisfactory solution that will enable the office to reopen. While the government takes baby steps to fight corruption, the business environment continues to suffer from widespread corruption which couples with the deteriorated security situation to constitute the most important barriers to the promotion of investment in Mali.

UN Anticorruption Convention, OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery

Mali has signed and ratified the UN Anticorruption Treaty. It went into force in April 2008. Mali is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery.

Resources to Report Corruption

The Government agencies that deal with corruption are:

  • The Economic and Financial Unit of Bamako (Pole Economique et Financier de Bamako). The prosecutor of the Pole Economique is Mamadou Bandiougou Diawara, (+223) 20 29 71 34
  • The Auditor General (Bureau du Verificateur General). The chief auditor is Amadou O. Touré, (+223) 20 29 70 25
  • The Accounts Chamber of the Supreme Court (Section des Comptes de la CourSupreme). The chief prosecutor is Kloussama Goita, (+223) 20 22 15 02
  • The Comptroller of Public Services (Controleur General des Services Publics,) the Comptroller is Mme Konaté Salimata Diakité, (+223) 20 22 58 15

Throughout two decades of multi-party democracy, Mali has consistently encouraged private enterprise and investment. However, a political crisis that unfolded throughout 2012 pushed the country into unprecedented turmoil, deterioration of the economic situation, and uncertainty in the investment climate. The U.S. Embassy in Bamako continues to update Travel Warnings for U.S. citizens traveling to Mali.

More information on travel warnings can be found at: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel.html

Northern Mali has long suffered from periodic episodes of violence related to inter-tribal politics, smuggling and other criminal activities, and friction between local tribes and the central government. A new wave of violence began in the first days of 2012, when several armed extremist and separatist armed groups took advantage of the influx of arms and mercenaries returning from Libya to launch a series of attacks on military installations in the North. By April 2012, they had pushed the Malian armed forces out of the three northern regions of Gao, Timbuktu and Kidal, and part of Mopti, effectively denying the government control of half of the national territory. Political tensions related to the military reversals in the north led to a coup d’état, and the overthrow of Mali’s democratically-elected government on March 21, 2012.

Mali began the long road toward resolution of its political crisis in April 2012, when the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) mediated a transfer of power to an interim government, which was charged with organizing elections within a year’s time.

The Malian government approved a “Roadmap for Political Transition,” after an extensive process of broad-based consultations. The two mandates spelled out in the Roadmap were, a) the organization of presidential and legislative elections during 2013, and b) the recapture of northern occupied territories and engagement in a negotiation process with armed groups not associated with AQIM.

French and African forces intervened in Mali in response to a new extremist offensive that threatened southern Mali. Within a few weeks, the intervention forces had retaken the major northern cities, substantially reversing the 2012 extremist takeover of the north. In June 2013, coalition forces in Mali were reorganized under the auspices of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

With the supervision of the international community, Mali democratically elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in August 2013 followed by legislative elections in December 2013. Municipal elections held in 2016 completed the electoral process. Originally scheduled for 2014, these local elections were postponed four times before being held in most of Mali in November 2016. The Government and pro-government militias signed a peace accord on May 15, 2015 with the Coordination of Northern Armed groups following suit on June 20, 2015. Since then, few of the accord’s tenets have been implemented, leaving the north in an unstable status quo. Violence from terrorist attacks and interethnic violence have increasingly spread into central Mali since 2015.

While the Malian government, backed by MINUSMA and French forces, has taken steps to reassert control over most of the major cities, much of the north remain unstable. The terrorist group Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), long entrenched in northeastern Mali remains dangerous. 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 recent terrorist attacks in Mali, including at a restaurant in Bamako in March 2015, at a hotel frequented by foreigners in Sevaré in August 2015, against the Radisson Hotel Blue of Bamako in November 2015, which led to 21 deaths, and against the Campement de Kangaba in June 2017. Multiple terrorist groups active in Mali consolidated under a single banner in March 2017. While previous jihadists attacks spared foreign companies except hotels and restaurants, recent attacks targeted infrastructure projects performed by foreign companies. In October 2017, jihadists 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.

Labor is widely available, though skilled labor is in short supply. Reliable unemployment data are difficult to obtain. While a 2017 GOM survey found an unemployment rate of 9.1 percent, the actual figure is likely over 30 percent. The rate is generally higher for youth between the ages of 15-24, coming in at 21.9 percent according to government’s 2017 survey. Workers have the right to unionize. Relations between labor and management are often contentious and strikes are common. A warning notice of 15 days is required for strikes. Unions generally use mediation procedures before resorting to a strike. The government has ratified all the International Labor Organization fundamental conventions protecting the rights of workers.

Since June 2014, the GOM has faced several strikes from 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. The private sector also partakes in strikes as shown by 2015 and 2017 banking and financial sector strikes. While the employers and workers often find an agreement, the movements of strikes often freeze economic activities when involving key sectors like financial system or transportation.

The Labor Code adopted in 1992 (amended in December 2011 and in June 2017) 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.

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 continues to be a serious problem in Mali. The International Labor Organization (ILO) cites that 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. 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, however, the inspection entities are underfunded and unable to regularly conduct inspections or provide support for victims of violations. In June 2017, the GOM amended the labor code to align Malian law of the minimum age of employment with the ILO standard, increasing the age of employment from 14 up to 15. The amended labor law bans discrimination based on religion, color, or gender. It also requires equality in terms of remuneration and forbids forced and compulsory labor.

Since 1997, Mali has been eligible for U.S. ExIm Bank programs for short and medium term insurance and guarantees for the private sector, and long term insurance or guarantees for the government in target sectors. Mali is also eligible for certain Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) programs. Mali has been a member of the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) since 1990. OPIC provided guarantee to the project of American International School in 2009 and in 2011. OPIC is also negotiating a deal for a solar energy project.

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (M USD) 2016 USD 15,213 20016 USD 14,035 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2016 USD 1 BEA data available at http://bea.gov/international/direct_investment_
Host country’s FDI in the United States (M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2016 USD -3 BEA data available at http://bea.gov/international/direct_investment_
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2016 0% N/A

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward USD 2,903 100% Total Outward USD 94 100%
United Kingdom USD 1,124 39% Burkina Faso USD 53 56%
Australia USD 564 19% Tanzania USD 13 13%
British Virgin Islands USD 350 12% Côte d’Ivoire USD 10 11%
France USD 135 5% Guinea Bissau USD 8 9%
Senegal USD 119 4% Ghana USD 6 7%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Data not available.

Rebecca A. Taylor
Economic and Commercial Officer
U.S. Embassy Bamako
ACI 2000, Rue 243, Porte 297
+223 20 70 23 00

2018 Investment Climate Statements: Mali
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