Mauritania Trade, Exports & Imports

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Most people living in Mauritania are still heavily dependent on livestock and agriculture as a way of earning a living although the majority of migrants to this country and a large number of the subsistence farmers were forced out of the countryside and into the city due to the 1970s and 1980s droughts. On a positive note, this country has a wealth of iron ore deposits and in fact, this accounts for as much as 50% of all Mauritania exports.

Most people living in Mauritania are still heavily dependent on livestock and agriculture as a way of earning a living although the majority of migrants to this country and a large number of the subsistence farmers were forced out of the countryside and into the city due to the 1970s and 1980s droughts. On a positive note, this country has a wealth of iron ore deposits and in fact, this accounts for as much as 50% of all Mauritania exports.

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Production of iron ore in Mauritania has slowed down because of lower demand but with the cost of metal, specifically gold, and silver being so high, the country is beginning to see some of the interior mines reopening.  Another huge part of the economy in Mauritania is the coastal waters.  Of all fish grounds on the planet, the waters near Mauritania are considered among the most fruitful.  Unfortunately, these very waters have been exploited by foreigners to the point of threatening revenue that comes from fishing.

Initially, a water port was opened in 1985 close to Nouakchott but again, with such intense problems of drought over the past 20 years, as well as mismanagement of the country’s economy, Mauritania has built up significant debt to other countries.  To resolve the problem, an agreement to join efforts with the World Bank IMF was agreed by Mauritania’s government, which involved $54 million being used on the enhanced structural adjustment facility, also called the ESAF.

During the 1960s, Mauritania had a GDP per capita of 82%, which eventually hit 166% in the mid-1970s.  However, this incredible economic growth could not be sustained and by the 1980s, the GDP per capita had dropped to just 14%.  By the end of the 1990s, the GDP saw improvement when it reached 29%.  As mentioned, new mining opportunities are being seen in some areas of Mauritania, which today accounts for more than 35% of the country’s economy.  However, the fishing industry is also strong, hold 54% of the economy.  However, due to net Mauritania imports of food, it is estimated that of all domestic food needs, as much as 70% is being imported.

Petroleum is another area in which the people of Mauritania have resources but an existing oil contract with Australia’s Woodside Petroleum led to the government of Mauritania denouncing it.  The agreement initially made was that this company would invest $600 million in US dollars to help develop one of Mauritania’s offshore oil projects.  However, when amendments to the contract were made by Woodside, the government of Mauritania stated the agreement was not within normal business practices and ultimately, it would cost the country $200 million US dollars each year.

In 2004 and 2005, the controversial amendments were signed by Zeidane Ould Hmeida the former oil minister.  Interesting, this person of authority was arrested one year later on charges of committing serious crimes against Mauritania’s essential economic interests.  Investigations of Woodside continued for some time by the Australian Federal Police specific to Mauritania corruption and bribery and sadly, there were even a few oil companies within the United States that were allegedly involved with the oil-related corruption to this country as well.

For Mauritania exports and the agriculture industry, some crops do create revenue to include beans, corn, millet, rapeseed oil, rice, sorghum, sugar, tobacco, and wheat.  Overall, the most recent information shows Mauritania exports to be at $1.4 billion.  Agriculture is only a small portion of exports with others including iron ore, fish, fish products, gold, copper, and petroleum.  Several companies have been partnered with for Mauritania trade specific to exports such as China, France, Spain, the Netherlands, and Belgium.

Then for Mauritania imports, current numbers sit at $1.475 billion.  The commodities for this country include equipment, machinery, capital goods, foods, petroleum products, and a variety of consumer goods.  Then for the partnerships that have been developed with other countries for Mauritania imports, the primary ones would be France, China, the Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, and the United States.

Keep in mind that while the commodities listed for exports and imports for Mauritania trade, this country has less valuable commodities as well.  For instance, natural gas and electricity are also an important part of the economy as well as Mauritania Trade, Mauritania Exports, Mauritania Imports.  While this country has several natural resources and access to incredible fishing grounds, the people of Mauritania have faced great challenge over the year due to drought, exploitation, and even criminal activity.  However, the government of Mauritania has remained focused and with perseverance and time, the country has stabilized and some growth is being reported.