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After economic sanctions crippled Mali, the AU and EU are trying a new tack

Quartz logo Quartz 09/06/2021 Stephen Kafeero

Long before last week’s suspension of Mali by the African Union (AU) and other partners over its second coup in nine months, the west African country was already struggling with a failing economy, rampant corruption, and a brutal jihadist conflict. Now the eighth-largest country in Africa risks being shut out from some of the continent’s most promising growth opportunities.

The land-locked country of 20 million is one of the poorest in the world, and largely dependent on imports. For now, the country’s military regime has escaped the type of economic sanctions imposed after last year’s August military takeover. But they could be reimposed, unless its military regime heeds to pressure from its trading partners to return to civilian rule.

Even without economic sanctions, Mali’s suspension from the AU means that country’s representatives are restricted in their ability to participate in initiatives like the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the free trade agreement which aims to accelerate intra-African trade and boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market. And even the threat of repeated sanctions could dampen any existing investor interest, says Dr Sanoussi Bilal, a senior executive at the European Centre for Development Policy Management.

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