Good resources on iron ore and other minerals
as well as rich fishing waters form the basis of the
Mauritanian economy. However, the dependency on aid is
large and the economy is sensitive to fluctuations in
prices for raw materials on the world market.
Growth has been good since the turn of the millennium
and was around 6 percent a year in 2012–2014. The
upswing has been possible thanks to the large assets of
iron ore, oil, copper and gold, among other things, but
economic reforms such as deregulation and privatization
have also contributed. Poverty has decreased, albeit
from a low level.
Major imports by Mauritania, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.
Mineral extraction accounts for just over a quarter
of the state's revenue and fisheries account for almost
as much. Iron ore is the most important export
commodity. Fishing licenses sold abroad are also an
important source of income (see Agriculture and
The economy underwent major changes when oil, gold
and copper in 2006 began to be exported for the first
time in modern times. Above all, however, oil recovery
fell rapidly (see Natural Resources and Energy).
Most Mauritanian people feed on livestock,
agriculture or temporary jobs in the informal sector of
the economy. The more well-off residents receive their
income from the mining industry and commercial fishing.
The mineral deposits mean that the Mauritanian people
have a somewhat higher economic standard than the
inhabitants of neighboring countries, but the social
divisions are large.
Mauritania has been pursuing an economic reform
policy since the 1980s in cooperation with the World
Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Among
other things, it has meant liberalization of the
state-controlled economy and privatization of
state-owned companies. At the same time, money has been
invested in poverty reduction and improved education.
The IMF has highlighted Mauritania as a country that has
succeeded in its economic reforms.
Abbreviationfinder.org: Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including MRT which represents the country of Mauritania.
However, relations with the IMF deteriorated
dramatically through the coup in August 2008, when the
fund canceled all payments to Mauritania. At the same
time, major donors such as the EU, the World Bank, the
US and France also stopped paying aid. Only after the
July 2009 presidential elections did the IMF, the EU and
the other donors resume cooperation with the country.
That same year, the international financial crisis
hit hard on Mauritania's economy. In particular,
fishing, mining, construction and, to some extent, the
oil industry were affected. However, the recovery was
rapid, already in 2010 GDP increased by 5 percent.
Apart from foreign aid, Mauritania is dependent on
"soft loans" (loans with favorable repayment terms). In
addition to the major Western donors, China and Saudi
Arabia, among others, contribute. Money sent from
Mauritania abroad to relatives in the home country also
means a lot to the country's economy.
Mauritania previously had one of the world's highest
external debt per capita, but the country has had large
portions of debt written down in connection with various
international debt amortization programs. At the end of
the 1990s, foreign debt accounted for more than 200 per
cent of GDP; In 2013, the debt was 87 percent of GDP.
FACTS - FINANCE
GDP per person
US $ 1,211 (2018)
US $ 5,366 million (2018)
3.6 percent (2018)
Agriculture's share of GDP
24.4 percent (2018)
Manufacturing industry's share of GDP
8.0 percent (2014)
The service sector's share of GDP
38.1 percent (2018)
3.0 percent (2019)
Government debt's share of GDP
82.9 percent (2018)
US $ 4,231 million (2017)
US $ 1,722 million (2017)
US $ 2,094 million (2017)
- US $ 709 million (2017)
Commodity trade's share of GDP
84 percent (2018)
Main export goods
iron ore, gold, oil, copper, fish
Largest trading partner
China, France, Italy, Ivory Coast, Netherlands,