Mauritania Table of Contents
The structure of Mauritania's imports since independence has reflected the country's growing dependence on foreign food, merchandise, and energy products. As domestic production of grains fell because of neglect and drought, the nation's reliance on commercially imported food grew. Between 1973 and 1986, commercial imports of grains and other foodstuffs, such as sugar and tea, averaged about 31 percent of all domestically financed imports. Ironically, in the periods of the worst drought, commercial food imports fell as Mauritania received free food assistance from the United States and Western Europe.
Other important domestically financed imports included petroleum products, construction materials, and transportation equipment. The values of these items and their percentage of total imports varied greatly from year to year, depending on such factors as development project requirements and military-related needs. A significant portion of imports were financed by foreign sources, often as components of development schemes or as emergency aid in times of drought. Between 1973 and 1986, imports directly financed abroad averaged over 20 percent of total imports.
Data as of June 1988