Mali's trade balance has been in chronic deficit, although there has been an overall improvement since the early 1970s when exports typically represented only half of the value of imports. By 1985 the trade deficit was equivalent to over 85 percent of merchandise exports compared with an estimated 5 percent in 1999. In 1997, Mali for the first time achieved a slight trade surplus, although the trade balance slipped back into deficit in 1998. The problem seems to be low export-oriented investment outside the extractive (the withdrawal of natural resources by extraction with no provision for replenishing) sector. Furthermore, Mali remains heavily dependent on imports for machinery and capital goods . In 1997, the major export partners included Thailand (20 percent), Italy (20 percent), China (9 percent), Brazil (5 percent), while the main import sources included Côte d'Ivoire (19 percent), and France (17 percent).