Mali ranks 153rd out of 162 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index. Notwithstanding its economic problems, Mali has made remarkable progress in liberalizing its economy and has laid the foundation for a vibrant system of decentralized democratic governance. Mali has set an example within West Africa for political and economic liberalization, which is essential for increased U.S. trade and investment. Mali is a force for stability in the region and has been forthright in its support of the United States.
During his May 2001 visit to Mali, Secretary of State Colin Powell said that Mali is an example to the world on how to peacefully transition from a dictatorship to a free and democratic government. Mali has been commended by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund for economic reform, currently illustrated by the government's participatory development of the Poverty Reduction Strategic Plan. Decentralized decision-making and effective civic action are progressing steadily, with community-level governing councils operating nationwide.