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 ( https://apimali.gov.ml/ ) 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 ( https://apimali.gov.ml/ ), 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.
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 http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/.
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 http://www.giaba.org/reports/mutual-evaluation/Mali.html .
Mali does not have a sovereign wealth fund.