That dollar amount reflects a 73% increase from $2.18 billion five years earlier in 2018.
Year over year, the value of Mauritanian exports rose 15.6% compared to $3.27 billion during 2021.
Mauritania’s 5 biggest export products by value are iron ores or concentrates, unwrought gold, moluscs, frozen whole fish, and copper ores or concentrates. Collectively, that quintet of leading international shipments represent 92.3% of total revenues that Mauritania collected from its exported goods during 2022.
Such a high percentage indicates a highly concentrated portfolio of export products.
Given Mauritania’s population of 4.33 million people, its total $3.78 billion in 2022 exports translates to roughly $870 for every resident in the northwest African nation. That per-capita amount exceeds the per-capita average $800 for 2021.
Mauritania’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Mauritanian global shipments during 2022. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Mauritania.
- Ores, slag, ash: US$1.5 billion (39.2% of total exports)
- Gems, precious metals: $1.2 billion (30.9%)
- Fish: $886.5 million (23.5%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $125.3 million (3.3%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $26 million (0.7%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $23.5 million (0.6%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $15 million (0.4%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $9.6 million (0.3%)
- Fertilizers: $8.7 million (0.2%)
- Cotton: $8.5 million (0.2%)
Mauritania’s top 10 exports accounted for 99.3% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Cotton was the fastest grower among Mauritania’s top 10 export categories, up by 24,183% from 2021 to 2022.
In second place for improving export sales was articles made from iron or steel via a 3,375% advance.
Mauritania’s shipments of gems and precious metals posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 260.9%. That product category was propelled in part by higher international sales of gold.
The lone decliner among Mauritania’s top 10 export categories was ores, slag and ash, recording a -27.7% year-over-year drop.
From the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, iron ores and concentrates were Mauritania’s most valuable exported product at 35.4% of the country’s total. In second place was unwrought gold (30.9%) trailed by moluscs (13.8%), frozen whole fish (8.6%), copper ores or concentrates (3.5%), inedible meat flour (3.3%), lobsters and other crustaceans (0.7%), fish or marine mammal fats and oils (also 0.7%), processed petroleum oils (0.6%) then preserved or prepared fish and caviar (0.2%).
Mauritania’s Major Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that 88.5% of products exported from Mauritania were bought by importers in: mainland China (23.3% of the Mauritanian total), Canada (18.4%), Spain (11.2%), Switzerland (5.8%), United Arab Emirates (5.5%), Italy (5.2%), Japan (5%), Algeria (4.2%), Ivory Coast (3.8%), Australia (2.5%), France (2.2%) and Eswatini (1.5%).
From a continental perspective, 35.7% of Mauritania’s exports by value was delivered to Asian countries while 28.8% was sold to importers in Europe. Mauritania shipped another 18.8% worth of goods to North America mostly Canada.
Smaller percentages went to fellow African nations (14.3%), Oceania’s Australia only (2.5%), then Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (0.01%).
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$1.5 billion (Down by -27.7% since 2021)
- Gems, precious metals: $1.2 billion (Up by 532.3%)
- Fish: $883.6 million (Up by 28%)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: $99 million (Down by -5.6%)
- Meat/seafood preparations: $12.7 million (Up by 79%)
- Raw hides, skins not furskins, leather: $616,000 (Up by 385%)
- Lead: $450,000 (Down by -43.5%)
- Miscellaneous animal-origin products: $12,000 (2021 data unavailable)
- Musical instruments: $8,000 (Reversing a -$1,000 deficit)
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 -US$1.34 billion product trade deficit for 2022. That deficit represents a 126.1% expansion from -$593.5 million in red ink for 2021.
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$2 billion (Up by 97.6% since 2021)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$447.2 million (Up by 431.4%)
- Machinery including computers: -$385.7 million (Up by 1.4%)
- Cereals: -$358.1 million (Up by 43%)
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: -$299.1 million (Up by 77.4%)
- Vehicles: -$226.3 million (Down by -22%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: -$157.9 million (Down by -3.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$109.1 million (Down by -5.3%)
- Vegetables: -$102.8 million (Down by -9%)
- Dairy, eggs, honey: -$85.3 million (Down by -1.9%)
Mauritania has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels including oil category notably for refined petroleum oils and petroleum gas.
Mauritania’s Export Companies
Not one Mauritanian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000 for 2022.
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)
In macroeconomic terms, Mauritania’s total exported goods represent 12.3% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2022 ($30.8 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 12.3% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2022 compares to 12.2% for 2021. 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 unemployment rate averaged 11.1% for 2022, down from an average 11.3% in 2021 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 November 1, 2023
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on November 1, 2023
Foreign Trade, United States Census Bureau. Accessed on November 1, 2023
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on November 1, 2023
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on November 1, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on November 1, 2023
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on November 1, 2023
Wikipedia, Flag of Mauritania. Accessed on November 1, 2023
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on November 1, 2023
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Mauritania. Accessed on November 1, 2023
Wikipedia, Mauritania. Accessed on November 1, 2023
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on November 1, 2023