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- GDP (PPP):
- $7.1 billion
- 3.6% growth
- 2.4% 5-year compound annual growth
- $2,179 per capita
- Inflation (CPI):
- FDI Inflow:
Mauritania’s economic freedom score is 52.3, making its economy the 134th freest in the 2013 Index. Its score has decreased by 0.7 point since last year, with declines in business freedom and trade freedom outweighing improvements in investment freedom and the control of government spending. Mauritania is ranked 28th out of 46 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is below the world and regional averages.
The Mauritanian economy has grown significantly since 2010, mainly due to investments in mining. The booming mining sector, associated with political stability, has ensured a sustained average growth rate of around 2.5 percent over the past five years.
Despite the economic expansion, overall progress in reforming and modernizing Mauritania’s resource-oriented economy has been uneven and deficient. The foundations of economic freedom remain fragile, with corruption and an inefficient judicial system continuing to undermine the rule of law. Weak governance and structural problems constrain the emergence of a more dynamic private sector. Policies needed to liberalize or sustain open markets have been undercut by considerable government interference in the economy. Youth employment continues to be a major problem, with urban unemployment exceeding 30 percent.
A military junta ruled Mauritania from 1978 until 1992, when the first multi-party elections were held. In 2008, General Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz overthrew President Sidi Ould Cheikh Abdallahi and declared himself president. Abdel Aziz won July 2009 elections. Popular discontent threatened his parliamentary alliance in the run-up to elections scheduled for October 2011, and the elections were repeatedly postponed. There are recurring ethnic tensions within the mixed population of Moors and black Africans. Mauritania is predominantly desert and beset by drought, poor harvests, and unemployment. Mining and fishing dominate the economy. Offshore oil production began in 2006.
Mauritania’s judicial system is chaotic and corrupt. The judiciary is influenced by the executive. Poorly trained judges are intimidated by social, financial, tribal, and personal pressures. Corruption is most pervasive in government procurement, bank loans, fishing licenses, land distribution, and tax payments. Bribes to obtain telephone, electricity, and water connections and construction permits more quickly are common.
The top income tax rate is 33 percent, and the top corporate tax rate is 25 percent. Other taxes include a value-added tax (VAT). The overall tax burden equals 16 percent of total domestic income. Government spending is equivalent to 29.1 percent of GDP. The budget remains in deficit, and public debt is about 92 percent of GDP. An important tax holiday for mining expires this year, but fiscal health should improve with a commitment to tackle subsidies.
The overall regulatory environment is significantly burdensome. The minimum capital requirement for launching a business is over three times the level of average annual income, and obtaining necessary licenses is time-consuming and costly. The labor law dating from 2004 is quite strict about hiring, and dismissal is difficult due to the required notification process. Inflation has been relatively contained.
The trade-weighted average tariff rate is high at 10.1 percent, and non-tariff barriers including customs delays further constrain trade freedom. Despite some progress, investors continue to be subject to complicated bureaucratic procedures and uncertainty caused by political instability. The prevalence of state-owned enterprises deters opportunities for private investment. Progress in modernizing the financial sector has been sluggish and limited.