The cotton sector in Mali is facing major challenges to overcome, with low export prices, technical hurdles, and a poorly performing state-owned cotton ginner. Some reforms, most notably with regard to the setting of the farmgate procurement price, have already been undertaken, but more is needed to put the sector on a sound financial footing. It is vital that the production process be modernized and the ginner profoundly reformed if cotton is to play a major role in poverty reduction in rural Mali.
This paper argues that as part of their fiscal optimization strategies CEMAC countries should be given the opportunity to invest into longer-term assets that generate market-based returns. The BEAC has created a framework of longer-term savings funds but due to low remuneration and other factors usage has remained limited. The paper also argues that regional savings in the form of reserve accumulation must be sufficient to ensure the stability of the common currency. While the current level of common foreign reserves may now be appropriate, maintaining an adequate level calls for a link between country-specific savings decisions and the setting of a regional reserve target. Strengthening and diversifying reserve management will also be desirable, a process the BEAC has embarked upon.