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Mauritania

Executive Summary

The deterioration of the global economy that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic had a severe impact on the Mauritanian economy and reversed the previously bright economic outlook that led to the reduction of the country’s poverty rate from 10.9 percent in 2008 to 6.0 percent in 2014. The Mauritanian government response has been swift in mitigating the impact of the pandemic with the support from international partners by way of assistance funds and debt service suspensions. As a response to the pandemic’s economic impact, President Ghazouani launched the Economic Recovery Plan (ProPEP) in September 2020. ProPEP aims to boost the economy and improve the living conditions of vulnerable populations by reducing extreme poverty, expanding basic socio-economic infrastructures, organizing the information sector, and adopting a regulatory framework conducive to private sector development. As part of his annual speech to the parliament on January 29, Prime Minister Bilal presented a brighter picture of Mauritania’s economic outlook highlighting the government’s push to attract more investors. His presentation highlighted Mauritania’s natural resources which consist of deposits of copper, gypsum, uranium, and hydrocarbons including one of Africa’s largest offshores discoveries, the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) natural gas field.

The 2022 budget reflects the Mauritanian government’s priorities as it attempts to revitalize the national economy and alleviate poverty, especially in the informal sector which was particularly impacted by COVID-19 and comprises 70 to 75 percent of the total economy. With its considerable natural resources, Mauritania places great importance on foreign direct investment (FDI). The continued global demand for iron-ore boded well for Mauritania throughout the pandemic as iron ore production is a main contributor to the country’s GDP. Real GDP is expected to grow from 2.8 percent in 2021 to 4.2 percent in 2022.

Mauritania has substantial renewable energy potential, particularly when it comes to solar, wind, and hydro power resources. The natural gas reserves at GTA are expected to enter production in 2023. The energy sector (hydrocarbons and renewable energy) offers opportunities for increased U.S. direct investment in Mauritania. On February 28, Kosmos Energy announced that it will increase investments in Mauritania and Senegal in 2022 by USD 300 million to accelerate development of the GTA gas field. According to Power Africa, the Government of Mauritania is working to expand its electricity supply and encourage investment in the renewable energy sector to stimulate the economy with the aim of reaching universal access by 2030. To do this, the GIRM will:

  • Increase new production capacity from local resources, mainly natural gas;
  • Increase the share of renewable energies in its total energy production, targeting 60 % by 2030;
  • Further develop the transmission network and interconnections with neighboring countries; and
  • Implement decentralized solutions in isolated areas.

Traditionally, U.S. investment in Mauritania has been primarily in the hydrocarbons and mining sectors. However, the Mauritanian government’s efforts to meet the challenges of food self-sufficiency provide an opportunity for U.S. agro-businesses to engage with Mauritania through supplies and equipment sales, as well as technical training. In 2019, Mauritania ranked as the United States’ 157th largest goods export market amounting to USD 91 million. Mauritania’s top export categories were machinery (USD 24 million), meat poultry (USD 15 million), vehicles (used and new) (USD 9 million), minerals fuels (USD 9 million).

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2021 140 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview 
Global Innovation Index 2021 N/A https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S.  FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2019 USD 96 https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/  
World Bank GNI per capita 2020 USD 1,670 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD   

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

3. Legal Regime

4. Industrial Policies

5. Protection of Property Rights

Investment Climate Statements
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