Estudios Económicos


Population 19.1 million
GDP 907 US$
Country risk assessment
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major macro economic indicators

  2018 2019 2020 (e) 2021 (f)
GDP growth (%) 5.2 5.1 -2.0 4.0
Inflation (yearly average, %) 0.3 -1.7 0.4 1.1
Budget balance (% GDP)* -3.9 -3.5 -6.2 -4.5
Current account balance (% GDP)** -5.0 -4.2 -2.0 -1.2
Public debt (% GDP) 37.7 40.5 45.0 46.0

(e): Estimate (f): Forecast *Including grants **Including official transfers


  • Substantial natural resources: agriculture (cotton) and mining (gold, bauxite, iron)
  • International assistance
  • Member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU)


  • Economy vulnerable to weather and commodity price fluctuations
  • Extreme poverty
  • Geographically isolated
  • Poor security situation
  • Dependent on international aid
  • Poor business environment (148th in the Doing Business 2020 ranking)


A recovery is expected in 2021

Hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, a worsened political and security situation and an ECOWAS embargo lasting several months, Mali saw its growth rate drop in 2020. However, the country is expected to return to growth in 2021. After suffering from the fall in world cotton prices (-40% in the first quarter of 2020 followed by an upturn in the second half of the year) and the late arrival of government aid after the rainy season, the agricultural sector is experiencing a 2020-2021 season that is considered satisfactory. While in 2020, the cotton harvest (which traditionally represents 15% of GDP) was expected to be only 80,000 tons (compared to nearly 300,000 tons the previous year), the situation should improve in 2021, driven by higher prices. This recovery will boost household consumption, since 15% of jobs are linked to cotton production. The mining sector, which accounts for 10% of GDP, benefited from favourable gold prices in 2020 and should continue to do so in 2021. The secondary sector, although shaken by the crisis, will be supported in 2021 by public investment aimed in particular at building new road and airport infrastructure, which will boost construction and public works. The services sector, which was hardest hit by restrictions on movement, suffered a revenue loss of about 20% in 2020. However, services started to pick up again as these restrictions were lifted, and this situation is expected to continue in 2021.


Heavily reliant on international aid

After WAEMU public finance rules were relaxed, Mali was able to implement a recovery plan to try to counter the effects of the coronavirus. In May 2020, the government announced a CFAF 500 billion plan, or 5% of GDP, to support businesses and households, including CFAF 100 billion to help the poorest households through measures such as cereal distributions or free water and electricity. The plan necessarily increased the country's public deficit in 2020, but it is expected to improve by 2021 (including grants). Public debt increased in 2020 and should continue to do so in the years to come. However, it was eased by the Paris Club's deferral of payments, which will save about CFAF 23 billion, and by the USD 10 million in debt service relief that the IMF granted the country in April 2020.

The country's current account deficit improved in 2020 and should continue drawing closer to balance in 2021. However, its level is largely attributable to the share of official transfers (about 3.5% of GDP). The trade deficit widened in 2020 despite the decline in oil prices and the rise in the price of gold (which accounts for 62% of exports). The situation will improve in 2021, as borders are reopened with ECOWAS countries and cotton exports resume. Despite the downturn in remittances from the diaspora, which represent 6% of GDP, the large transfer surplus will be increased by international aid. Accordingly, the improvement in the current account reflects assistance worth USD 200 million from the IMF, USD 25.8 million from the World Bank and USD 48.9 million from the AfDB, in order to fight the health crisis.


The political and security situation is still very poor

After a military coup forced former president Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign on 18 August 2020, an 18-month transitional government was formed in October. In response to the coup, ECOWAS sanctioned the junta in August by ordering the closure of its member states' borders with Mali and halting financial and trade flows until certain democratic requirements were met. Following this decision, a civilian, Moctar Ouane, was appointed prime minister and formed a 25-member cabinet, whose key ministries were, however, taken over by the military. The appointment of this mixed government led ECOWAS to lift its embargo in October 2020. Nevertheless, despite hopes that the violence might subside after the new government released more than 200 jihadists, the latter resumed their attacks on the Malian army after a truce lasting only a few days. The country thus continues to face considerable insecurity resulting from numerous inter-community conflicts, exacerbated by frequent jihadist terrorist attacks.


Last updated: February 2021

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