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France and Mauritania

Presentation

Political relations

France and Mauritania have a history of strong relations.

Their bilateral relations are currently governed by the partnership framework document signed in April 2013 for the period 2013-2015, which establishes sustainable development, human development, governance and cultural and scientific cooperation as priority issues. This is coupled with extensive security and defence cooperation.

Latest bilateral meetings

  • Mr Alain Joyandet, French Minister of State for Cooperation and Francophonie, visited Mauritania in August 2009 to attend the swearing-in of President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, and again in May 2010.
  • Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz took part in the Nice Africa-France Summit in May and June 2010 and then the Bastille Day festivities in Paris, marked by the commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the African independences, in July 2010.
  • Mr Bernard Kouchner, French Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, visited Mauritania in July 2010.
  • Mr Henri de Raincourt, French Minister of Cooperation, visited Mauritania in February 2011, and again in February 2012.
  • Alain Juppé, Ministre d’État, French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, visited Mauritania in July 2011.
  • Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz met the President of the French Republic, François Hollande, in Paris whilst convalescing in November 2012.
  • Mr Laurent Fabius, French Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited Mauritania in April 2013.
  • Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz took part in the Élysée Summit for Peace and Security in Africa in December 2013.
  • Mr Michel Sapin, French Minister of Labour, Employment, Vocational Training and Industrial Relations Dialogue, visited Mauritania in March 2014, and again, as Minister of Finance and Public Accounts, in March 2015.
  • Mr Bernard Cazeneuve, French Minister of the Interior, visited Mauritania in May 2014 to attend the meeting of the Interior Ministers of the Sahel G5 group.
  • Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, French Minister of Defence, visited Mauritania in May 2014.
  • Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz attended the commemorations of the Provence landings in August 2014. He visited France again in September 2014.

Economic relations

With exports totalling €210 million in 2014, France is one of Mauritania’s main suppliers, providing food and pharmaceutical products in particular.

France’s imports, meanwhile, represented €62 million in 2014, with China being Mauritania’s largest client by far. The most part of its exports is made up of iron ore.

Some 60 French companies are present in Mauritania. France remains the main holder of foreign direct investment in Mauritania outside the extractive industries, with a stock of €54 million in 2012.

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

France is the largest bilateral donor of development assistance to Mauritania (USD 84 million in 2012).

The partnership framework document signed in April 2013 for the period 2013-2015 establishes human development, sustainability and cultural and scientific cooperation as priority issues, focusing on:

  • promoting forums for cultural exchanges;
  • promoting the French language;
  • enhancing the potential of scientific knowledge;
  • developing access to water and sanitation;
  • developing alternative energy sources and access to renewable energy;
  • supporting sustainable, transparent exploitation of mineral resources;
  • developing education and technical and vocational training provision;
  • contributing to improved maternal and infant health.

In parallel, the Agence française de développement (AFD, French Development Agency) implements debt relief and development contracts, three of which were signed for the periods 2002-2005, 2006-2008, and 2009-2013, while a fourth runs from 2014 to 2019.

In recent years, AFD projects have covered water and sanitation, sustainable energy, preserving and developing natural capital, education, health, and local development.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development also manages several Priority Solidarity Fund projects such as “Support for mastery and use of French in Mauritania” and “Strengthening of the governance and vocational training of the University of Science, Technology and Medicine”.

Mauritania is also home to an Institut français (French Institute) in Nouakchott, and five Alliance française branches, in Nouakchott, Nouadhibou, Kaédi, Atar and Kiffa.

Security and defence cooperation

In view of the security challenges in the Sahel-Sahara region, there is extensive security and defence cooperation between France and Mauritania.

As such, Mauritania, along with Mali and Niger, received support under the “Justice and Security in the Sahel-Sahara Region” Priority Solidarity Fund project, aimed at strengthening State capacities in terms of internal security, the justice system, and customs in the fight against terrorism and organized crime.

In the framework of Operation Barkhane, which was launched in August 2014, France has an operational military detachment in Atar. It also deploys operational instruction detachments for the Mauritanian armed forces.

Updated: 15.02.16

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