Algeria–Mali trade: the normality of informality

Sami Bensassi, Anne Brockmeyer, Mathieu Pellerin, Gael Raballand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
254 Downloads (Pure)


This paper estimates the volume of informal trade between Algeria and Mali and analyzes its determinants and mechanisms, using a multi-pronged methodology. In addition to mirror statistics analysis, we provide evidence of the importance of informal trade, drawing on satellite images and surveys with informal traders in Mali and Algeria. We estimate that the weekly turnover of informal trade fell from approximately US$2 million in 2011 to US$0.74 million in 2014, but that trade continues to play a crucial role in the economies of northern Mali and southern Algeria. We also show that official trade statistics are meaningless in this context because they capture less than 3% of total trade. Meanwhile, profit margins of 20–30% on informal trade help to explain the relative prosperity of northern Mali. Informal trade probably plays a strong role in poverty reduction, especially in the Kidal region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalMiddle East Development Journal
Early online date25 Jul 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jul 2017


  • informal trade
  • Algeria
  • Mali
  • customs
  • smuggling
  • Kidal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Development


Dive into the research topics of 'Algeria–Mali trade: the normality of informality'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this