This master thesis looks at the cotton sector in Mali and the prospects for making trade in cotton work for Malian cotton producers. Through an institutional analysis I look at the role of internal institutional conditions. The theoretical framework is informed by new institutional theory and contributions from development theory on the role of the state and the concept of neo-patrimonial states in Africa. The findings are used for further analysis of World Bank reforms that are being implemented in the cotton sector in Mali. The findings are also seen in relation to the Doha Development Round, and the debate over trade and development.