That dollar amount reflects a 58.8% increase since 2017, and a 10.9% rise from 2020 to 2021.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2020, the Mauritanian ouguiya depreciated by -3.9% against the US dollar since 2017 and declined by -1.4% from 2019 to 2020. Tajikistan’s weaker local currency makes its exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
Mauritania’s 5 biggest export products by value are iron ores or concentrates, moluscs, unwrought gold, frozen whole fish, and copper ores or concentrates. Collectively, that quintet of leading international shipments represent 92.4% of total revenues that Mauritania collected from its exported goods during 2021.
Such a high percentage indicates a highly concentrated portfolio of export products.
Given Mauritania’s population of 4.24 million people, its total $3.27 billion in 2021 exports translates to roughly $800 for every resident in the northwest African nation. That per-capita amount exceeds the average $700 for 2020.
Mauritania’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Mauritanian global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Mauritania.
- Ores, slag, ash: US$2 billion (62.7% of total exports)
- Fish: $693.5 million (21.2%)
- Gems, precious metals: $324 million (9.9%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $120.7 million (3.7%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $23.7 million (0.7%)
- Machinery including computers: $11.4 million (0.3%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $10.3 million (0.3%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $9.4 million (0.3%)
- Fertilizers: $7.4 million (0.2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $4.5 million (0.1%)
Mauritania’s top 10 exports accounted for 99.5% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Ores, slag and ash was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 65.1% from 2020 to 2021. That category was propelled by higher international sales of iron ores or concentrates and, to a lesser extent, copper ores or concentrates.
In second place for improving export sales was plastics both as a materials and articles made from plastics via a 40.5% gain.
Mauritania’s shipments of fertilizers posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 36.4%.
Year over year, the leading decliner among Mauritania’s top 10 export categories was gems, precious metals thanks to a -57.9% drop weighed down by lower international revenues for Mauritanian exports of gold.
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, iron ores and concentrates were Mauritania’s most valuable exported product at 54.8% of the country’s total. In second place were moluscs (11.3%) trailed by unwrought gold (9.9%), frozen whole fish (8.5%) then copper ores or concentrates (7.9%).
Products Creating Greatest Trade Surpluses for Mauritania
The following types of Mauritanian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Ores, slag, ash: US$2 billion (Up by 65.4% since 2020)
- Fish: $690.5 million (Up by 4.4%)
- Gems, precious metals: $184.9 million (Down by -76%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $104.8 million (Down by -12.8%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $7.1 million (Down by -38.8%)
- Lead: $797,000 (Up by 82.8%)
- Other base metals: $312,000 (Reversing a -$5,000 deficit)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $127,000 (Down by -50%)
Mauritania has highly positive net exports in the international trade of iron and copper ores or concentrates. In turn, these cashflows indicate Mauritania’s strong competitive advantages under the ores, slag and ash product category.
Products Causing Biggest Trade Deficits for Mauritania
Mauritania incurred an overall -$593.4 million product trade deficit for 2021. That deficit represents a reversal from the $89.7 million trade surplus in 2020.
Below are exports from Mauritania that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Mauritania’s goods trail Mauritanian importer spending on foreign products.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$1 billion (Up by 22.9% since 2019)
- Machinery including computers: -$380.3 million (Up by 24.5%)
- Vehicles: -$290.2 million (Up by 109.6%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$258.9 million (Up by 466%)
- Cereals: -$250.5 million (Up by 18.5%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: -$168.6 million (Down by -2.2%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$163.2 million (Up by 26.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$115.2 million (Up by 28.2%)
- Vegetables: -$113 million (Up by 61.5%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$87 million (Up by 7%)
Mauritania has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels including oil category notably refined petroleum oils and petroleum gas.
Mauritania’s Export Companies
Not one Mauritanian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000 for 2021.
Global trade portal Alibaba.com lists exports-related companies from Mauritania. Selected examples are shown below.
- Al Durr Sea Food (frozen fish, octopus)
- AMV Fish (fresh/frozen fish)
- EMCC SARL (seafood)
- MauriVenture – SARL (octopus)
- RimPesca – SA (octopus, cuttlefish, grouper)
Mauritania’s Major Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 93.1% of products exported from Mauritania were bought by importers in: mainland China (41.5% of the global total), Italy (10.7%), Canada (9.9%), Spain (9.6%), Japan (6.9%), Australia (3.7%), Ivory Coast (3.2%), Germany (3.1%), Russia (1.6%), France (1.5%), Mali (0.7%) and Portugal (0.7%).
From a continental perspective, 49.6% of Mauritania’s exports by value were delivered to Asian countries while 29.4% were sold to importers in Europe. Mauritania shipped 10% worth of goods to North America mostly Canada, with 7.1% delivered to fellow African nations.
Smaller percentages went to Oceania (3.7%) mostly Australia, and Latin America (0.15%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean.
In macroeconomic terms, Mauritania’s total exported goods represent 12.2% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($26.7 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 12.2% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 11.8% for 2020. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Mauritania’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Mauritania’s average unemployment rate was an estimated 10.5% for 2021, down from an average 10.7% in 2020 per Trading Economics.
Mauritania’s capital city is Nouakchott.
See also South Africa’s Top 10 Exports, Nigeria’s Top 10 Exports, Togo’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook report on Africa: Mauritania. Accessed on April 7, 2022
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 7, 2022
Foreign Trade , United States Census Bureau. Accessed on April 7, 2022
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on April 7, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity)
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on April 7, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on April 7, 2022
Wikipedia, Flag of Mauritania. Accessed on April 7, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on April 7, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Mauritania. Accessed on April 7, 2022
Wikipedia, Mauritania. Accessed on April 7, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on April 7, 2022