Getting Started

Exporting to Mauritania

In this section, you will 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 4.42 million people.  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.

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

Mauritania’s oil and gas sector offers major opportunities for American contractors and suppliers. In 2018, the governments of Mauritania and Senegal came to an agreement to allow exploitation of the Greater Tortue natural gas reservoir that straddles their maritime border. Offshore exploration continues, and there are opportunities to develop fields where oil and/or gas has already been discovered, as well as 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 2018 the iron ore production and export remain the largest source of revenue for the state budget. Exploration has shown important signs of mineral deposits.  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 2017 (against 20% in 2009) and mineral products accounted for over 70% of total export earnings in 2017.  The Ministry estimates that total mining investments in Mauritania amounted to approximately $10 billion. In 2018, Mauritanian per capita gross national income (GNI) stood at $1,300 according to World Bank statistics. The country revenues from natural resources remain significant in 2018, particularly from the mining sector, which has sustained study growth thanks to a period of high international commodity prices. In 2018, iron ore remained 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 $350 million of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in 2018.  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 fish are estimated to be 1.5 million tons of fish per year among which only about 700,000 tons is harvested per year.  In 2018, only 15% of the total catch was unloaded in Mauritanian ports, among which 8% was transformed in Mauritanian factories.  In 2018, fishing accounted for about 18 percent of Mauritania’s gross domestic product and up to 50 percent of its export earnings.  European (Spain) and Asian (China, Japan, and Turkey) fishing companies mainly exploit the fishing sector.

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 launched the Global Fisheries Initiative Conference.