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France and Mali


Political relations

Mali and France enjoy close relations of confidence, not only for historical and cultural reasons but also because of the large Malian diaspora in France.

Our political relations have included many bilateral visits since 2013.

On 2 February 2013, President François Hollande and the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, travelled to Mali (Sévaré, Bamako and Timbuktu). Both of them also attended President Keïta’s inauguration ceremony on 19 September 2013 in Bamako.

The President of the Republic of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, visited France from 20 to 22 October 2015. He has visited France on several other occasions since taking office: 29 September-1 October 2013; 2-8 December 2013 for the Élysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa; 13-16 August 2014 for the ceremonies for the 70ᵗʰ anniversary of the landings in Provence; 11 January 2015 for the Republican march in Paris; 10 May 2015 for the inauguration of the ACTe Memorial in Guadeloupe; 30 November-1 December 2015 for COP21; 9 February 2016.

The French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, visited Bamako on 4 and 5 April and 28 May 2013. He also received Prime Minister Oumar Tatam Ly in Paris on 7 February 2014 and his counterpart, Abdoulaye Diop, on 31 July 2014 and 9 March 2015. Prime Minister Moussa Mara was received by the French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls, on 30 September 2014. The French Prime Minister himself visited Mali on 18 and 19 February 2016.

Economic relations

Bilateral trade

Our 2014 trade balance of €340 million with Mali is our third largest trade surplus in the Franc Zone. Our exports to Mali total €349.5 million and consist mainly of capital goods (27%), pharmaceuticals (22%), farming and agrifood products (21%) and transport equipment (15%). Mali remains France’s fourth-largest market in the sub-region, after three coastal countries (Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Benin), despite its isolation and lack of oil resources. France remains Mali’s main supplier and Malian imports to France, 70% of which are farming and agrifood products, total €9.6 million.

Our exports should continue to benefit from the impact of major contracts, which have soared from an average of €20-30 million per year to €160 million in 2014.

Foreign direct investments (FDI) and French presence

During the early 2000s, Mali enjoyed a major influx of FDI, which increased more than twentyfold, making it the third-largest recipient country in the sub-region, with a stock of $3.4 billion (31% of GDP) in 2013, after Côte d’Ivoire ($8.2 billion) and Niger ($4.9 billion), and ahead of Senegal ($2.7 billion).

This influx was largely due to the increase in South African, Australian and Canadian investment projects in the highly capital-intensive mining sector. The privatization of the telecom company SOTELMA also led to an influx of FDI in 2009. Other sectors are also popular with foreign investors: Moroccan investors represent one third of the banking sector, while Chinese investors are attracted to the public works and civil engineering sector, and commerce. However, the manufacturing and farming industries, which are crucial for growth and development, attract very little investment.

The 2012 crisis briefly interrupted this trend. FDI flows dropped by 28% in 2012, mainly in the telecom and mining sectors, before rising again during 2013 (+3% to $410 million) to reach average pre-crisis levels (between 3.5% and 4% of GDP).

The business environment remains difficult. Although it is a founding member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), Mali is placed fairly low in the World Bank Doing Business rankings (146ᵗʰ out of 189). Investment is greatly hindered by a lack of tax and land tenure security, and weak infrastructure, especially electrical infrastructure. The security situation weighs on all investment projects, especially in the north of the country.

In 2013, French investment stock totalled €73 million and flows rose to €3.7 million, after falling in 2012. France is no longer Mali’s largest foreign investor, due to the rise in investments by the countries mentioned above. 125 French-owned subsidiaries and companies have been registered, employing around 4,000 people. They are mostly in the following sectors: mobile telephones (Orange), fuel distribution (Total), drinks (Castel), electrical equipment and public works and civil engineering equipment (Delmas group), public works and civil engineering (Razel), and banking (BNP Paribas and Banques Populaires).

French development assistance

Civil cooperation, which was suspended after the coup in 2012, resumed in 2013. It restarted with the Brussels conference “Together for a new Mali” on 15 May 2013. The pledges made at this event totalled €3.28 billion for 2013-2014.

As Mali’s largest bilateral donor, France pledged to spend €308 million on development projects in the country over the period 2013-2014, mainly in the fields of budget support, support for the private sector, healthcare and local development. For the period 2014-2016, the projected commitments of the Agence française de développement (French Development Agency, AFD) amount to €260 million.

Decentralized cooperation is thriving. 170 French local governments have committed to 300 cooperation projects in Mali, of which 150 are currently underway. This cooperation involves 15% of the local governments in Mali.

In addition to this bilateral assistance, France makes a major contribution through multilateral assistance, including the European Development Fund (EDF), the World Bank and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Under the 11ᵗʰ EDF, the European Union plans to allocate €615 million to Mali over the period 2014-2020. France provides 17.5% of the financing for this fund. The European Union and its Member States combine their programming in a European joint programming document, which states that France plans to contribute €472 million to Mali over the period 2014-2018.

In terms of military cooperation, France is involved in the European training and advice mission for Malian armed forces, EUTM Mali, and the European training and advice mission for internal security forces, EUCAP Sahel Mali. At bilateral level, France provides Mali with military volunteers; it initiated and led the creation of the Peacekeeping School (École de maintien de la paix, EMP) in Bamako; and it supports the Military Administration School (Ecole militaire d’administration, EMA) in Koulikoro. French security and defence cooperation programmes in Mali totalled €4.15 million in 2015.

France has set up a website detailing all of its development assistance projects in Mali. This website was initially set up for Mali, before being extended to other French assistance priority countries.


Updated: 02.03.2016

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