Buying and Selling

flag Mauritania Mauritania: Buying and Selling

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | E-commerce | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier


Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
International Economic Cooperation
Since the 1990s, Mauritania has been implementing economic reforms trying to liberalize its economy, increase the competivity of its exports and reinforce its legislative framework. The prices were liberalized, barriers to trading were lifted, fiscal policy and custom duty procedures were reformed.

Mauritania is a member of the WTO (original member). It grants most-favored-nation treatment to the group of its commercial partners and has consolidated 41% of its tariff lines, that is to say the rates applied cannot be increased unless Mauritania compensates the affected partners. On the regional level, Mauritania is a part of the AMU (Arab Maghreb Union), the aim of which, to achieve free movement of persons, services, merchandise and capital, is for the moment only a project. Mauritania has also concluded bilateral trade agreements with Algeria, Egypt, Gambia, Mali, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia, but the level of preference tariffs is yet to be established. Notably towards the European Union and the United States Mauritania benefits from preferential regime as part of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP).

Non Tariff Barriers
Mauritania does not apply specific commercial policy to the different sectors. Restrictions are few and aim first of all to maintain security, public order and health. The country has little recourse to quantitative barriers and import licenses. Non-tariff barriers are often limited to payment delays applied by local banks to providers.

Every year, the Direction of Agriculture deploys enormous means to fight against organisms harmful to crops. In order to do this, a phytosanitary control of vegetables and vegetable products has been set up at the point of their importation into Mauritania (see the list of products subject to phytosanitary measures).

Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
20%, Mauritania remains a country with high custom duty tariffs in comparison with its neighbors.

Customs Classification
Custom procedures have been simplified, custom duty rates rationalized and the majority of non-tariff measures eliminated. The customs nomenclature corresponds to the harmonized system established by the WTO.
All products entering the territory are subject to declaration. These are managed by an informatized system, SYDONIA, and treated on the spot by the Customs offices, except for when they are not informatized, in the case of which they are treated again by the General Customs Direction. Imports in the amount exceeding 5000 USD are controlled by the General Surveillance Society (Société Générale de Surveillance, SGS). The applied custom duty tariffs are ad-valorem taxes.
The evaluation of the value of products is based on transactional value, except for used cars, where the minimal importation value continues to be used. There are three different custom duty rates: normal rate of 20%, minimal rate of 5% applicable to countries benefiting from the Most-favored-nation clause, and a 0% rate applied to certain products, notably those of vital need. Custom duty is progressive according to the level of transformation of the product.       
Together with customs duty, the majority of imported products are subjected to statistical tax of 3%. Some agricultural products are also subjected to seasonal levies.
Exonerations and exemptions of customs duty and importation tax, as well as discounts, are sometimes practiced.
Import Procedures
The following documents required for imports:


-commercial invoice with the name and address of the buyer and the seller, the date and place where it was written, transport means, quantity, description of merchandise and conditions of delivery and payment.
-bill of landing or a certificate of origin
-inspection certificate, delivered by the Société Générale de Surveillance
Importers require an inspection before shipping and a control of quality. An inspection certificate must be provided for all imported goods.

Importing Samples
Samples imported for commercial reasons are exempted from tax. These goods must enter using the ATA carnet which can be obtained at the International Chamber of Commerce Council.
For Further Information
Customs Code
Business Portal for Africa

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing opportunities

Main Advertising Agencies
6éme Sense
Crea Communication
3D Cube
Karoui & Karoui

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
Since its second Trade Policy Review (TPR) in 2011, Mauritania has experienced five years of steady economic growth at 5-6% per year, driven by the high world prices for its main export products (chiefly iron ore) and massive public investment in the new airport, the extension of the port of Nouakchott, and road infrastructure. Average per capita income continued its steep rise, reaching close to US$1,500 in 2014. However, unequal distribution of the country's wealth has meant that there has been no significant impact on the overall level of poverty among its population of 4.3 million. According to the United Nations, Mauritania remains a least developed country with low human development indices.

Since 1991, Mauritanian market has been undergoing liberalisation and consequently, imports have grown. Many imported foods are now available, of variable quality according to storage conditions and at a high price. In addition to this, small supermarkets have quickly developed in the capital city and in Nouadhibou. In parallel, some international retailers started implementing modern retail infrastructure, through franchising most of the time
Market share
Imports are controled by wholesalers close to the power circles. The majority of the products is then distributed in small stalls or by sellers established in markets in Nouakchott and other big cities. The informal sector remains very important and involved in the sale of most of the products, from livestock to spare parts. Finally, middle-sized shops and small "supermarkets" are very popular, especially in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou.

Among the biggest supermarkets brands, we can quote:
- ATAC from the french retailer Auchan (in a joint venture with a local business man)
- Eco Marché
- la Générale d'Alimentation
- Le Bon Choix Supermarchés
- Supermarchés Salam

Retail Sector Organisations
Mauritania Ministry of Economy

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Internet access
Internet access is unrestricted in Mauritania, but its penetration is still low. By the end of 2017, Mauritania had a population of 4.5 million people, out of which 810,000 were internet users, making the penetration rate 17.8 %, a growth of 14% compared to 2016. Mobile telephone services, in contrast, have a penetration rate over 110%. In 2017, 41% of the population had access to 3G coverage, while 4G was nonexistent. Additionally, 11.2% of households had Internet access, while only 5% of households had a computer. The World Bank has supported the country in defining an overall strategy based on developing access for all citizens by stimulating private investment in broadband internet. Through their funding, mobile and fixed-wireless operators are also providing fixed services in rural areas. It is possible to access the internet in any reasonably sized town, although outside Nouakchott connection speeds can often be wanting. Tariffs are around UM 200 (EUR 0.5) per hour. Top-end and mid-range hotels and many restaurants in Nouakchott and Nouadhibou generally offer free wi-fi. For the past 15 years, the Government, along with the telecommunication operators, have been making efforts to improve connectivity rates in the country and reduce the digital divide, which have been showing results. Both the Government and the operators have plans to further develop countrywide high-speed networks by licensing LTE services, expanding satellite broadband coverage and rolling out fibre-to-the-home network in the capital and main cities. Extensive efforts are made to roll out fibre backbone infrastructure between major cities, and to cover rural areas with satellite broadband services. Facebook is used by 770,000 people. YouTube is becoming increasingly popular (18% in June 2018). Meanwhile Twitter and Instagram are still rarely used (2% and 0.05%). As of September 2018, the most popular browsers in the country by market share were Chrome (74.61%), Opera (5.13%), Safari (5.05%), Samsung Internet (4.78%), Android (4.04%), and Firefox (3.1%).  As for search engines, Google (97.25%) was by far the most popular one, followed by Yahoo! (1.23%), Bing (0.92%), and Baidu (0.17%).
E-commerce market
E-commerce is not developed in the country and there's no updated data available. Internet users purchase mainly consumer electronics through and

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
Many imported products come through the ports of Nouakchott or Nouadhibou. The roadway network is 10 300 km long, of which 2424 km are tarred, 872 km are made of improved earth and 7001 km are trails. The network is dangerous, especially during nights and due to many wandering animals, absence of lighting and heavy-weight trucks parked on fire lanes. River way transportation is possible of the Senegal river. Concerning railroads, they serve the north of the country and are used essentially to convoy the extracted minerals from the different northern mines.
The Maritime Affairs Research and Coordination Cell of the Ministry of Transportation
Directory of Mauritanian airports
Sea Transport Organisations
Information about the autonomous ports of Nouadhibou and Nouakchott
Air Transport Organisations
Coordination Cell for the new Nouakchott Airport, supervised by the Ministry of Transportation
Road Transport Organisations
General Direction of Road Transportation and the direction of roadway security, under the direction of Ministry of Transportation
Rail Transport Organisations
National Industrial and Mining Society managing the Zouérate-Nouadhibou line (in French)

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
The dominant Mauritanian industries are of two kinds: mining activities and packaging of fish products.

To search directories by industry in Mauritania, check out our service Business Directories.

Professional Associations by Sector
1 professional associations listed for Mauritania.
General Professional Associations
Arab Forum for Young Entrepreneur

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Latest Update: May 2024