The Republic of Mali is an example of democratization on the African continent. The economic development initiated in the late 1990s through the implementation of a new economic policy is a priority for the Government and has resulted in price liberalization and freer trade. Bordering seven countries, Mali is an ideal place from which to explore the regional market. Mali also enjoys special access to the US market through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and to the EU market through the "Everything but Arms" initiative (EBA).
A number of incentives are offered to attract foreign investment, strengthened by the Government´s reforms in customs, labour, public finances and corporate taxation. Although investment remains low, the country has enjoyed a net increase in the last five years, and the political stability reinforced by a broadly secure environment is also contributing to a more hospitable investment climate. Mali offers many opportunities, especially in agriculture (Mali being the leading producer and exporter of cotton in West Africa) and mining. Other opportunities are to be found in telecommunications and tourism.
The country also offers a number of challenges. The workforce has limited skills; infrastructure, especially the lack of road and rail networks, needs attention; and the administration is weak. Overall, however, there has been a successful transition to democracy, and legal and economic reforms have laid the foundation for attracting greater investment.
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