Mali explores how to overcome NTM-related obstacles to trade

8 June 2016
ITC News
ITC survey examines how non-tariff measures affect Malian importers and exporters.

Representatives from Mali’s government and business community met in Bamako on 26 May to discuss how to overcome trade impediments related to non-tariff measures (NTMs). The meeting followed a recent survey conducted by the International Trade Centre (ITC) in collaboration with the country’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry and the Malian Export Promotion Agency (APEX-Mali), which revealed that NTMs are particularly problematic for Malian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and exporters of agro-based products.

In fact, the survey found that most exporting and importing companies doing business in Mali face difficulties in complying with national and foreign regulations such as inspection requirements, customs surcharges or export permits. The survey results showed that the majority of challenging regulations experienced by Malian exporters were related to product conformity on foreign markets, notably product certification, but also national export and import authorizations and controls, which often create unnecessary administrative costs and delays.

As a landlocked country, nearly all of Mali’s merchandise exports and imports not directly involving its neighbours must pass through a neighbouring country on the way to or from a port. Most of the NTM-related difficulties are down to burdensome procedures encountered in Mali’s neighbouring partner countries.

The urgent need to overcome the obstacles identified in the survey was underlined by Adama Satigui Sidibé, the Secretary General ad interim of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, who urged participants ‘to debate deeply and transparently on the NTMs and related procedures that affect the Malian economy and define ambitious and realistic solutions’.

Streamlining trade-related authorizations and procedures

During the meeting, a dozen proposals were tabled to improve the recognition of Malian products in foreign markets, streamline export and import authorizations, and simplify customs procedures. These proposals will help the formulation of trade policies and trade-related technical assistance projects at the national and regional level.

As part of this effort, ITC is currently consulting with Malian stakeholders to design future activities aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of the private sector and strengthening the capacity of country’s trade and investment support institutions.

The recommendations of the Mali meeting will also feed into discussions at a regional roundtable on NTMs for members of the Economic Commission for West African States (ECOWAS) in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, on 14-15 June. This event will explore further the findings of ITC business surveys on NTMs across the ECOWAS countries and provide input to the development of regional integration initiatives.

Learn more about ITC’s work on non-tariff measures.