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How Mali became an illicit gold trade hub

Mali’s taxation practices applicable to gold exports have turned the country into West Africa’s illicit gold trading hub, Partnership Africa Canada said in a published report.

The report, The West African El Dorado: Mapping the Illicit Trade of Gold in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Burkina Faso, investigates challenges in the governance of artisanal gold mining in the three countries—and the vulnerabilities posed by the illicit trade of gold on the region.

The investigation finds that these countries have taken important steps towards encouraging legal trade of artisanal gold—a sector which employs an estimated three million miners in Côte d’Ivoire, Mali and Burkina Faso—such as the harmonisation of export taxes at 3%.

Partnership Africa Canada found that Mali’s application of export taxes to only the first 50kg of gold per month is promoting smuggling, as traders bring gold over the border into Mali to get a large tax break.

“Mali’s harmful implementation of tax laws is cause for concern in the region, as it actively drives the illicit trade of gold. Mali’s neighbours are missing out on important revenue from taxes as traders smuggle gold over borders to take advantage of the tax break,” said Joanne Lebert, Executive Director Partnership Africa Canada.

“Importantly, export statistics from Mali are painting a worrying trend and it is up to international refiners and buyers to exercise additional due diligence on gold exported from the country to ensure the gold is clean,” added Lebert.

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