Mauritania Economy Facts

Economical overview

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 Fisheries).

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.

  • Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including MRT which represents the country of Mauritania. Check findjobdescriptions to learn more about 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.


GDP per person

US $ 1,211 (2018)

Total GDP

US $ 5,366 million (2018)

GDP growth

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)

External debt

US $ 4,231 million (2017)



Merchandise exports

US $ 1,722 million (2017)


US $ 2,094 million (2017)

Current account

– 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, Belgium

Mauritania Economy Facts

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