NOUAKCHOTT, 6 March 2021 – The Mauritanian economy contracted by about 2.0 percent in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impose severe human and social hardships on the country.
Prior to the outbreak of the new coronavirus, Mauritania’s economic growth was projected to post a 6.2 percent growth during the 2019-2021 period.
Mauritanian authorities responded swiftly to mitigate the impact of the pandemic while international partners provided sizable financing and debt service suspension, the IMF said in a statement.
“High commodity exports has placed Mauritania in a stronger position to address upcoming challenges and support the recovery,” the statement adds.
Mauritania’s “outlook remains highly uncertain and dependent on volatile commodity markets, with sizable downside risks in case new waves of the pandemic spill over”.
The statement was issued following the sixth and final review by the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) covering 2017–2021.
The review allowed the disbursement of SDR 16.56 million (12.9 percent of quota, about US$23.8 million).
The arrangement was initially approved on 6 December 2017 providing access of SDR 115.92 million (about $167 million at current exchange rates).
The goal of the arrangement was to help Mauritanian authorities to meet social and infrastructure needs while maintaining macroeconomic stability and increasing resilience to shocks.
The deal was augmented by SDR 20.24 million last September 2 and extended for three months until last December 1, allowing total access of SDR 132.48 million (102.9 percent of quota) in 2020.
The IMF says the performance of the Mauritanian economy has been strong despite delays, helping to support growth, improve fiscal balances and stabilize debt.
Nouakchott has also increased foreign exchange reserves, and implemented institutional reforms in the fiscal, monetary, and financial sector policy areas.
The World Bank Group projects that Mauritania’s “robust macroeconomic framework is expected to strengthen, provided the government maintains fiscal prudence, by ensuring that public debt remains viable”.
“An improvement in the terms of trade owing to an increase in international iron prices is expected to mitigate external pressures and allow the central bank to respond to financing needs,” the World Bank added.