Mali - Economic development
Fiscal management reform and continued dependence on foreign aid into the foreseeable future are the hallmarks of the economic development effort in the coming years. The 1994 devaluation of the CFA (Communauté Financière Africaine) franc resulted in increased exports of cotton, livestock, gold, and other products, but raised the price of imports. Strong prices for cotton worldwide, combined with record production in Mali in 1995, were both positive factors for the Mali economy. However, the agricultural sector is still highly vulnerable to drought and, in spite of its natural potential, unlikely to produce at self-sufficiency levels. In 1999, the EU provided $82 million for the development of roads and bridges in Mali, and the West African Development Bank offered a loan to upgrade urban roads.
The government has taken steps to liberalize the regulatory climate in order to encourage foreign investment. Price controls on consumer goods (including on petroleum products), import quotas, and export taxes have all been eliminated. Privatization of state-owned enterprises continued throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century. In 1999, Mali negotiated a $64 million four-year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) Arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). In 2003, Mali was granted $675 million in debt service relief under the IMF/World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, to improve governance, strengthen social services, and develop infrastructure and key productive sectors. Economic development has been hindered by drought and falling world cotton prices.