Mali Economy Facts

Economical overview

Conflict-affected Mali is one of the world’s poorest countries. The unrest in the country is exacerbating the economic situation. Foreign aid covers about one third of government spending. An important contribution to Mali’s economy is also money sent home by the millions of Malaysians working abroad.

At least two-thirds of the inhabitants are considered poor. According to the World Bank, almost half of the population lived in extreme poverty in 2017. The vast majority of males live outside the formal economy, from cultivation for their own use or from livestock management. The country’s industry is undeveloped.

  • Major imports by Mali, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.

Gold, cotton and livestock account for a large part of export income, which makes the economy vulnerable to both world market prices and weather fluctuations. A strong need for oil and food imports also makes the country sensitive to price changes on the world market.

Growth without development

Prior to the 2012 military coup, Mali’s economy had improved significantly over a couple of decades. The reasons for the rise were mainly increased political stability, liberalization of the economy and sharply increased exports of cotton and gold.

  • Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including MLI which represents the country of Mali. Check findjobdescriptions to learn more about Mali.

After the 2012 military coup and the Islamists’ advances, a large part of the formal economy stopped, and foreign aid was temporarily frozen. Already from 2013, a recovery took place as aid was resumed and the IMF entered into loans. GDP growth was relatively good over the next five years, but the level of development has remained low as the population is also growing rapidly.

Corruption and bad governance led to the IMF and the EU suspending payments of budget support in June 2014. President Keïta subsequently concluded an agreement with China on, among other things, major investments in infrastructure. A peace agreement in 2015 did not provide the political stability and economic development that the government and lenders had hoped for. In 2019, 3.2 million Malaysians were in need of humanitarian aid, of which 70 percent were in the conflict-affected middle part of the country, and at least 120,000 residents were internally displaced.

Foreign aid accounts for about a tenth of GDP and virtually all government investment is paid for through aid. The EU and France are important donors. In addition to the armed conflict, poorly developed infrastructure, high risk of drought and a large dependence on imports are the major obstacles to economic development.

Deficit in the trade balance

Traditionally, Mali has had large deficits in trade with foreign countries, but with increased gold exports, the country for the first time in 1997 made a surplus in the trade balance. Subsequently, small trade deficits are usually noted in the trade balance, while a few years have shown surpluses thanks to high gold prices.

The total current account balance, which also includes trade in services and financial flows, has had constant deficits. This is partly due to high transport costs to ports in neighboring countries. Assistance and repatriated money (from remittances) from malays abroad to some extent offset the current account balance.

Mali was one of 44 African states that in March 2018 signed a new free trade agreement, AFCFTA. The agreement must be ratified at national level before it can take effect, but is seen by many as an important step towards increased trade exchange within Africa.


GDP per person

US $ 901 (2018)

Total GDP

US $ 17,197 million (2018)

GDP growth

4.9 percent (2018)

Agriculture’s share of GDP

38.5 percent (2018)

Manufacturing industry’s share of GDP

12.6 percent (2016) 1

The service sector’s share of GDP

37.5 percent (2018)


0.2 percent (2019)

Government debt’s share of GDP

37.3 percent (2018)

External debt

US $ 4 368 million (2017)


West African CFA Franc

Merchandise exports

US $ 2,896 million (2017)


US $ 3,600 million (2017)

Current account

– US $ 1,210 million (2017)

Commodity trade’s share of GDP

46 percent (2018)

Main export goods

gold, cotton, livestock

Largest trading partner

Senegal, South Africa, China, Switzerland-Liechtenstein, France (2016)

1st Source: Europa World Plus



Military posting attacked

At least 20 people are killed and several others are taken hostage when Tuaregians again attack a post in the north.


Army posting is being attacked

Dozens of government soldiers are killed and nearly 20 soldiers are removed when Tuareg rebels attack an army post in the Northeast. Nearly 20 rebels are also reported to have been killed in the attack.

The ceasefire is broken

The ceasefire agreement is broken and new firefights are fought. The Tuaregrebels attack army sites about 50 miles southwest of Timbuktu, kill a number of soldiers and steal weapons.


Agreement on cease-fire in the north

Libyan mediators cause the parties to agree on a cease-fire. The Tuaregs promise to release 33 government soldiers held hostage since August 2007. Libya promises development aid to northern Mali.


New battles in the north

Tuaregrebeller is said to have captured about 20 soldiers in connection with fighting against government forces.


Rebels are accused of child abuse

The UN agency Unicef ​​says it has evidence that the rebels in the north are forcibly recruiting boys and that girls are being sexually abused. About 300,000 children have gone without schooling in the troubled areas.

Mali Economy Facts

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