Getting Started

Exporting to Mauritania

President Obama announced the National Export Initiative (NEI) two years ago, with the goal of doubling exports by 2014. U.S. embassies are committed to supporting U.S. companies to start exporting or grow their exports to Mauritania. In this section, you’ll find a quick description of Mauritania as an export market and some suggestions for getting started.

Mauritania is a large, sparsely-populated desert country. It forms a geographic link between North and Sub-Saharan Africa. It has long been associated with a tradition of north-south trade and a culture favorable to free markets, personal mobility, and entrepreneurship.  It seeks to overcome a history of nomadic poverty, Arab nationalism, and state-centered policies by building an urbanized society, a pluralist democracy, and a market-based economy.

With 1.09 million sq. km but only 3 million people, Mauritania has the world’s third lowest population density after Mongolia and Namibia.  Located at the western edge of the Sahara with 500 miles of Atlantic coastline, Mauritania shares borders with the Western Sahara and Algeria to the north, Mali to the east and south, and Senegal to the south. The country is about 90% desert.

Mauritania forms a geographic link between North and Sub-Saharan Africa.  It has long been associated with a historical tradition of north-south trade and a culture favorable to free markets, personal mobility, and entrepreneurship.

The best market opportunities for investors continue to be in oil, gas, mineral and fishing.

Mauritania’s oil and gas sector offers major opportunities for American contractors and suppliers. In 2015 exploratory drilling in offshore of Mauritania has revealed significant deposits of oil and gas. Also areas in the deep water blocks or in the onshore Taoudeni Basin that have not yet been explored offer opportunities to foreign investors. There are also opportunities to develop fields where oil has already been discovered and to provide supplies and logistical support to companies working in the sector. Mauritania’s proven and probable crude oil reserves are estimated at around 600 million barrels and the sector is bound to become the major player in the economy.

In 2016, the Iron ore production and export remain the largest source of revenue for the state budget. Exploration has shown important signs of mineral deposits. In 2006, copper production began and gold production will follow in 2010. The Government continues to grant licenses to foreign companies for mineral research and exploration.

According to the Ministry of Oil, Energy and Mines, Mauritania has some of the richest and least-developed deposits of mineral resources in Africa, many in high demand on the international market. These include: iron ore, copper, gold, phosphates, gypsum, and salt, as well as recent discoveries of uranium and diamonds. The mining sector represented 24% of Mauritania’s GDP in 2014 (against 20% in 2009) and mineral products accounted for over 50% of total export earnings in 2015. As metal prices on international markets, although volatile, continue to fluctuate  and mining companies make large investments in Mauritania, . The Ministry estimates that total mining investments in Mauritania amounted to approximately $10 billion. In 2014, Mauritanian per capita gross national income (GNI) stood at $1,270 according to World Bank statistics.  The country revenues from natural resources remain significant in 2016, particularly from the mining sector, which has sustained study growth thanks to a period of high international commodity prices. In 2016 Iron ore remains the most significant asset, with a total of 805 million tons of proven reserves and an annual production of more than 12 million tons. According to an informed World Bank source, the mining sector generated $128 million of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in 2010 and an expected $589 million of FDI in 2011, thanks to large investments in the mining sector by Canada-based Kinross in gold. Mauritania is an EITI (Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative) compliant member since 2012

Mauritania, a predominantly desert nation, has some of West Africa’s richest fishing waters. The reserves of fishes are estimated to 1.5 million tons of fish per year among which only about 700,000 tons is harvested per year. In 2015, only 10% of the total catch are unloaded in Mauritanian ports, among which 4% is transformed in Mauritanian factories. In 2015, Fishing accounts for about 14 percent of Mauritania’s gross domestic product and up to 50 percent of its export earnings. The fishing sector is mainly exploited by European and Asian fishing companies.

Traditionally, Mauritania signs periodic fishing agreement with European Union. The European Union (EU) pays Mauritania about $100 million annually for fishing rights. The last signed agreement occurred on 10 July 2015. The European Union and the Islamic Republic of Mauritania signed a new 4-year Protocol as the Fisheries Partnership Agreement (FPA). The new protocol confirms several decades of cooperation in the field of fisheries, a key sector for the development of Mauritania. This agreement allowed the EU boats to fish in Mauritanian coasts and export to Europe and others countries. On February 3, 2016 Mauritania launch the Global Fisheries Initiative Conference. Mauritania joining the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) will improve fisheries management in Mauritania.