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Economy of Mauritania


Economy of Mauritania

Economy of Mauritania
A market place in Tidjikja
Currency Ouguiya
Calendar Year
Trade organisations
WTO, Group of 77
GDP Increase $7.824 billion (PPP) (2012 est.)
Rank: 157 (2012 est.)
GDP growth
Increase 6.4% (2012 est.)
GDP per capita
$2,200 (PPP) (2012 est.)
Rank: 190 (2012 est.)
GDP by sector
agriculture (14.9%)
industry (48.0%)
services (37.1%) (2012 est.)
Increase 6.5% (2012 est.)
Population below poverty line
40% (2004 est.)
39 (2000)
Labour force
1.318 million (2007)
Labour force by occupation
agriculture (50.0%)
industry (10%)
services (40%) (2001 est.)
Unemployment 30% (2008 est.)
Main industries
petroleum, mining (iron ore, gold, copper, gypsum), fish processing
Exports Increase $2.66 billion (2012 est.)
Export goods
petroleum, iron ore, gold, copper, gypsum, fish
Main export partners
 China 48.6%
 Italy 7.5%
 Japan 7.0%
 Côte d'Ivoire 6.7%
 France 4.7%
 Spain 4.1% (2012 est.)[2]
Imports Increase $2.916 billion (2012 est.)
Import goods
machinery, petroleum products, food
Main import partners
 China 12.9%
 Netherlands 10.5%
 United States 7.8%
 France 7.7%
 Brazil 5.6%
 Germany 5.5%
 Spain 5.1%
 Belgium 4.7% (2012 est.)[3]
Increase $2.897 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Public finances
Decrease -2.9% of GDP (2012 est.)
Revenues $1.143 billion (2012 est.)
Expenses $1.263 billion (2012 est.)
Main data source: CIA World Fact Book
All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars.
Mauritanian exports in 2006

A majority of the population of Mauritania depends on agriculture and livestock for a livelihood, even though most of the nomads and many subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s and 1980s. Mauritania has extensive deposits of iron ore, which account for almost 50% of total exports. The decline in world demand for this ore, however, has led to cutbacks in production. With the current rise in metal prices, gold and copper mining companies are opening mines in the interior. The nation's coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, but overexploitation by foreigners threatens this key source of revenue. The country's first deep water port opened near Nouakchott in 1986. In recent years, drought and economic mismanagement have resulted in a buildup of foreign debt. In March 1999, the government signed an agreement with a joint World Bank-International Monetary Fund mission on a $54 million enhanced structural adjustment facility (ESAF). The economic objectives have been set for 1999-2002. Privatization remains one of the key issues.


  • Macro-economic trend 1
  • Diversification 2
  • Dispute with Woodside Petroleum 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Macro-economic trend

This is a chart of trend of gross domestic product of Mauritania at market prices estimated by the International Monetary Fund with figures in millions of Mauritanian Ougulyas.
Year Gross Domestic Product US Dollar Exchange Inflation Index (2000=100)
1980 37,211 45.93 Ouguiyas 23
1985 60,197 77.07 Ouguiyas 36
1990 97,819 80.64 Ouguiyas 52
1995 158,443 129.76 Ouguiyas 73
2000 258,245 240.00 Ouguiyas 100
2005 514,642 265.55 Ouguiyas 144

Current GDP per capita of Mauritania grew 82% in the Sixties reaching a peak growth of 166% in the Seventies. But this proved unsustainable and growth consequently scaled back to 14% in the Eighties. Finally, it shrank by 29% in the Nineties. Mean wages were $0.97 per manhour in 2009.


In 2007, mining industries accounted for well over 35 per cent of the Mauritanian economy, with the fish industry so much as 54% (with big changes between these industries in the power relationship). Diversification of the economy into non-mining industries remains a long-term issue. Mauritania is a net importer of food, reportedly importing 70% of its domestic food needs.[4]

Dispute with Woodside Petroleum

In February 2006, the Mauritanian government denounced amendments to an oil contract made by former leader Maaouiya Ould Taya with Woodside Petroleum, an Australian company. In 2004, Woodside had agreed to invest $US 600 million in developing Mauritania's Chinguetti offshore oil project. The controversial amendments, which Mauritanian authorities declared had been signed "outside the legal framework of normal practice, to the great detriment of our country", could cost Mauritania up to $200 million a year, according to BBC News. Signed by Woodside two weeks after the February 1, 2005 legislation authorizing the four amendments, they provided for a lower state quota in the profit-oil, and reduced taxes by 15 percent in certain zones. They also eased environmental constraints, and extended the length and scope of the exploitation and exploration monopoly, among other measures.

The disputed amendments were signed by former oil minister Zeidane Ould Hmeida in February 2004 and March 2005. Hmeida was arrested in January 2006 on charges of "serious crimes against the country's essential economic interests".

Nouakchott's authorities declared that the government would likely seek international arbitration, which Woodside (which operated for Hardman, BG Group, Premier Oil, ROC Oil, Fusion, Petronas, Dana Petroleum, Energy Africa and the Hydrocarbons Mauritanian Society) also contemplated.

Discovered in 2001, Chinguetti has proven reserves of about 120,000,000 barrels (19,000,000 m3) of oil. At the end of December 2005, authorities estimated that in 2006, the oil profits would be 47 billion ouguiyas (about US$180 million) and represent a quarter of the state budget, according to RFI.[5]

The Australian Federal Police are investigating Woodside for allegations of bribery and corruption in Mauritania (according to the Sydney Morning Herald [6][7]).

Some U.S. oil companies are alleged to be playing a part in Mauritania's oil related corruption.[8]

See also


  1. ^ "Doing Business in Mauritania 2012".  
  2. ^ "Export Partners of Mauritania".  
  3. ^ "Import Partners of Mauritania".  
  4. ^ IRIN 2008, 'MAURITANIA: Record hunger predicted in 2008',, 19 March. Retrieved on 20 March 2008.
  5. ^ "Mauritania and firm row over oil". BBC News. 2006-02-06. "Crise ouverte avec la compagnie pétrolière Woodside". Radio France International. 2006-02-06. 
  6. ^ Askew, Kate; Ayala, Violeta (2006-10-13). "Police start Woodside probe over bribery claim - Business - Business". Melbourne: Retrieved 2010-03-29. 
  7. ^ "Slick operator - Business - Business". 2006-06-03. Retrieved 2010-03-29. 
  8. ^ Looking Glass News. "Mauritanian coup has Bush administration[sic]/Big Oil fingerprints.". Looking Glass News. Retrieved 2010-03-29. 

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the CIA World Factbook.

External links

  • Economy of Mauritania at DMOZ
  • Mauritania latest trade data on ITC Trade Map
  • Katsarova, Ivana. "EU-Mauritania fisheries agreements". Library Briefing. Library of the European Parliament. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 

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