Country Info: Mauritania ⋆

Mauritania

Bilateral Trade by Sector: United States - Mauritania

Value ('1000 dollars), US 'domestic exports' *, US 'imports for consumption' / Includes year-to-date data

Economic Background

[Note: Country is suspended from AGOA since beginning of 2019] 

Mauritania's economy is dominated by extractive industries (oil and mines), fisheries, livestock, agriculture, and services. Half the population still depends on farming and raising livestock, even though many nomads and subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s, 1980s, 2000s, and 2017. Recently, GDP growth has been driven largely by foreign investment in the mining and oil sectors.

Mauritania's extensive mineral resources include iron ore, gold, copper, gypsum, and phosphate rock, and exploration is ongoing for tantalum, uranium, crude oil, and natural gas. Extractive commodities make up about three-quarters of Mauritania's total exports, subjecting the economy to price swings in world commodity markets. Mining is also a growing source of government revenue, rising from 13% to 30% of total revenue from 2006 to 2014. The nation's coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, and fishing accounts for about 15% of budget revenues, 45% of foreign currency earnings. Mauritania processes a total of 1,800,000 tons of fish per year, but overexploitation by foreign and national fleets threaten the sustainability of this key source of revenue.

The economy is highly sensitive to international food and extractive commodity prices. Other risks to Mauritania's economy include its recurring droughts, dependence on foreign aid and investment, and insecurity in neighboring Mali, as well as significant shortages of infrastructure, institutional capacity, and human capital. In December 2017, Mauritania and the IMF agreed to a three year agreement under the Extended Credit Facility to foster economic growth, maintain macroeconomic stability, and reduce poverty. Investment in agriculture and infrastructure are the largest components of the country’s public expenditures.

Agricultural products

rice, milk, goat milk, sheep milk, sorghum, mutton, beef, camel milk, camel meat, dates

Industries

fish processing, oil production, mining (iron ore, gold, copper)

note: gypsum deposits have never been exploited

Industrial production growth rate

1% (2017 est.)

 (Source: World Factbook, 2021)

View related news articles

US to end trade benefits for Mauritania over forced labour

President Donald Trump said the United States will revoke Mauritania’s preferred trade status in January because of its failure to make progress on human rights – namely, slavery. The West African nation will no longer be eligible for benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), which affects market access, investment, and reduced or eliminated tariffs on U.S. imports. “I am providing notice of my intent to terminate...

03 November 2018

Denied access to Mauritania, US anti-slavery activists press on

Mauritania has denied access to a group of American anti-slavery activists on a mission to West African nations, on grounds that their plans conflicted with Mauritanian law and had not been approved through proper channels. That group has nonetheless continued on their mission in Dakar, Senegal. “We are engaged in this work to show solidarity and support for those working against slavery and its legacy – and to strengthen...

13 September 2017

Labour group warns that Mauritania’s 'total failure on slavery should rule out trade benefits'

US labour unions cite Mauritania’s unwillingness to act on slavery as Trump administration is urged to deny country duty-free exports. The routine abuse of thousands of enslaved Mauritanians, including rape, beatings and unpaid labour, should prevent the African republic from receiving US trade benefits, American labour unions have said. Mauritania, which has one of the highest rates of modern-day slavery in the world and has been roundly...

25 August 2017

Mauritania loses AGOA eligibility after coup

The United States will eliminate trade benefits for Mauritania in response to a military coup in August that toppled a democratically elected president, the White House said Friday. "I have decided to terminate the designation of Mauritania as a beneficiary sub-Saharan African country ... effective on January 1, 2009," President Bush said in a proclamation. Many sub-Saharan African countries are eligible under the U.S. African Growth and...

22 December 2008