Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions 2005
Chapter

MAURITANIA

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
Published Date:
September 2005
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(Position as of December 31, 2004)

Status Under IMF Articles of Agreement
Article VIIIDate of acceptance: July 19, 1999.
Exchange Arrangement
CurrencyThe currency of Mauritania is the Mauritanian ouguiya.
Exchange rate structureUnitary.
Classification
Managed floating with no predetermined path for the exchange rateEffective August 1, 2004, the Central Bank of Mauritania (CBM) discontinued the foreign exchange auctions held under the Extended Exchange Market (EEM) mechanism and adopted a direct intervention system accompanied by rationing of foreign exchange. Previously, the daily official exchange rate was determined in the EEM session of the previous day, and the CBM decided the extent of its intervention in the EEM based on observed and foreseeable market pressures; the reserve accumulation target; and the actual rates observed in transactions recorded in the preceding days by banks and exchange bureaus. Based on the central rate, the CBM used a fixed margin of ±0.375% to obtain bid and offer rates, which were used in all CBM foreign exchange–ouguiya transactions with the treasury. All CBM foreign exchange transactions with banks and foreign exchange bureaus were carried out in the EEM sessions. In addition to the CBM and the National Industry and Mining Society, which participated only through sell orders, the EEM was open to banks and exchange bureaus that had paid a guarantee deposit. In addition, exchange bureaus had to deposit 2.5% of the amount of any buy order exceeding the equivalent of $20,000. This deposit was paid to the counterparty if the order was accepted; otherwise, it was refunded to the exchange bureau. A bank was not allowed to buy or sell for its own account more than the equivalent of 8% of its net capital and reserves in dollars at any one session of the EEM. Banks and exchange bureaus were allowed to freely determine the bid and offer rates and commissions they used in transactions with their customers and among themselves. The average exchange rate was applied to foreign clearing transactions of the Postal Administration; this exchange rate was applied also to remittances through the Postal Administration by Mauritanian workers residing abroad. The CBM requires banks to report on a weekly basis purchases and sales of foreign exchange equivalent to $10,000 or higher.
Exchange taxNo.
Exchange subsidyNo.
Forward exchange marketNo.
Arrangements for Payments and Receipts
Prescription of currency requirementsn.a.
Payments arrangements
Bilateral payments arrangements
InoperativeYes.
Regional arrangementsAn inoperative arrangement exists within the framework of the Arab Maghreb Union.
Administration of controlAdministration of control is vested in the CBM, the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and the Ministry of Commerce. Exchange control authority to approve current international transactions is delegated to authorized banks and foreign exchange bureaus.
International security restrictionsn.a.
Payments arrears
PrivateYes.
Controls on trade in gold (coins and/or bullion)
Controls on external tradeAll imports and exports of gold, except manufactured articles containing small quantities of gold, require prior authorization from the CBM.
Controls on exports and imports of banknotes
On exports
Domestic currencyTravelers are not allowed to take out domestic banknotes and coins.
Foreign currencyCBM permission is required for residents to export foreign currency exceeding the equivalent of $3,000, and nonresidents must declare amounts in excess of this limit; in both cases, documentary evidence of the source of the funds must be presented. If nonresidents wish to repurchase amounts exceeding the equivalent of $1,000 previously sold for ouguiyas, they must present a receipt of sale from a bank or an exchange bureau. Nonresident holders of foreign accounts denominated in a foreign currency or in convertible ouguiyas and maintained with a licensed banking intermediary may export any amount of traveler’s checks denominated in foreign currencies or foreign banknotes withdrawn from foreign exchange accounts.
On imports
Foreign currencyImports of foreign banknotes exceeding the equivalent of $3,000 must be declared.
Resident Accounts
Foreign exchange accounts permittedCommissions of 1.0% and 1.25% apply to withdrawals from dollar accounts of banknotes and traveler’s checks, respectively.
Held domesticallyResidents may open accounts denominated in convertible foreign currencies, and these accounts may be credited and debited freely.
Held abroadLicensed banks and foreign exchange bureaus may freely open accounts with banks abroad to accommodate foreign exchange market transactions. Other residents are not allowed to maintain accounts abroad.
Accounts in domestic currency held abroadNo.
Accounts in domestic currency convertible into foreign currencyNew convertible accounts in domestic currency may not be opened. Those that existed prior to 2000 may be operated in accordance with the provisions of Circular No. GR/005/2000.
Nonresident Accounts
Foreign exchange accounts permittedLicensed intermediary banks may operate freely nonresident convertible accounts and transit accounts on behalf of nonresident individuals and juridical persons. Nonresident convertible accounts may be credited with (1) transfers from abroad or from another foreign account, (2) proceeds from the cashing of checks drawn on a foreign bank or on another foreign account opened in a Mauritanian bank to the order of the account holder, (3) transfers issued by a licensed intermediary bank by order of a resident in payment of transactions authorized by the exchange control regulations, (4) undocumented transfers in ouguiyas from the holder’s account up to the equivalent of $6,000 a year, and (5) proceeds from the surrender of foreign exchange held in the account on the foreign exchange market (banknotes, however, whether foreign or issued by the CBM, may not be deposited). These accounts may be debited for (1) foreign exchange surrendered on the foreign exchange market, funds to be transferred abroad, and withdrawals of traveler’s checks denominated in a foreign currency by the holder; (2) transfers in favor of another foreign account or a resident; (3) checks issued by the holder of the account in favor of another nonresident or a resident; and (4) withdrawals of banknotes issued by the CBM. Transit accounts may be opened freely by resident consignees on their books in the names of shipping companies.
Domestic currency accountsNonresidents may open domestic currency accounts, and balances on these accounts are freely transferable. Existing convertible ouguiya accounts may be credited in the same manner as foreign exchange accounts.
Convertible into foreign currencyExisting nonresident accounts in convertible ouguiyas may be converted, but new convertible accounts may not be opened.
Blocked accountsNo.
Imports and Import Payments
Foreign exchange budgetEffective August 1, 2004, the CBM introduced a direct intervention system in the foreign exchange market for allocating foreign exchange to primary banks that submit needs on behalf of clients or on their own behalf.
Financing requirements for importsNo.
Documentation requirements for release of foreign exchange for imports
Preshipment inspectionImports exceeding the equivalent of $5,000 must be inspected by the Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS) before shipment. The SGS provides the CBM with copies of import documentation.
Import licenses used as exchange licensesUpon presentation of advance import notification, the importer may purchase foreign exchange from an authorized bank or an exchange bureau.
Import licenses and other nontariff measures
Negative listImports of a few goods, such as arms and alcoholic beverages, are prohibited for reasons of health or public policy.
Open general licensesYes.
Import taxes and/or tariffsFour duty rates apply: zero, 5%, 10%, and 20%. In addition, a statistical tax of 3% is levied. Goods that are imported by some public enterprises or with external financing are exempt from all import duties. The fourth phase of the tariff reform is in effect.
State import monopolyNo.
Exports and Export Proceeds
Repatriation requirementsYes.
Surrender requirementsExporters of fish are required to repatriate their export proceeds via the central bank, of which 70% is surrendered and the remaining 30% deposited in the exporter’s foreign currency account.
Financing requirementsn.r.
Documentation requirementsExport certificates—which must specify the quantity, value, and destination of all goods—are processed by the customs valuation office (CVO); the CBM receives a copy for information purposes.
Letters of creditSome exports require an LC.
DomiciliationExports exceeding the equivalent of UM 20,000 in value must be domiciled.
Export licensesExports of goods require only a certificate endorsed by the CVO.
Without quotasYes.
Export taxesA tax is levied on exports of fish and crustaceans at rates ranging from 8% to 20% for specialized catches, and at a rate of 5% for shrimp and crayfish.
Payments for Invisible Transactions and Current Transfers
Controls on these transfersAll payments for invisibles may be effected freely.
Trade-related payments
Indicative limits/bona fide testYes.
Investment-related paymentsTotal or partial repayments of foreign capital invested in Mauritania, as well as capital gains therefrom, are permitted freely in accordance with Circular No. GR/006/1999.
Indicative limits/bona fide testYes.
Payments for travel
Prior approvalYes.
Quantitative limitsYes.
Indicative limits/bona fide testYes.
Personal paymentsRestrictions apply on payments of family maintenance and alimony.
Indicative limits/bona fide testYes.
Foreign workers’ wagesForeign workers’ wages may be transferred freely, usually through foreign exchange accounts.
Indicative limits/bona fide testYes.
Proceeds from Invisible Transactions and Current Transfers
Repatriation requirementsProceeds must be repatriated within four months.
Restrictions on use of fundsNo.
Capital Transactions
Controls on capital transactionsYes.
Controls on capital and money market instrumentsCapital transactions are subject to exchange control. Outward capital transfers require CBM approval and are controlled, but inward capital transfers are normally permitted freely, although the subsequent investment of the funds in Mauritania may require approval.
On capital market securities
Shares or other securities of a participating nature
Purchase locally by nonresidentsPurchases of securities of private enterprises are permitted.
Sale or issue locally by nonresidentsThe facilities for these transactions do not exist at present.
Purchase abroad by residentsPurchases are subject to CBM authorization.
Bonds or other debt securitiesThe regulations governing shares or other securities of a participating nature apply.
On money market instrumentsThe regulations governing shares or other securities of a participating nature apply.
On collective investment securities
Purchase abroad by residentsYes.
Controls on derivatives and other instrumentsThe regulations governing collective investment securities apply.
Controls on credit operationsControls apply to all credit transactions, guarantees, sureties, and financial backup facilities by residents to nonresidents.
Controls on direct investmentThe investment code (Law No. 2002-03) governs direct investments and all associated incentives and benefits.
Outward direct investmentYes.
Inward direct investmentYes.
Controls on liquidation of direct investmentThere are no controls on the liquidation of direct investments, and their transfer is guaranteed by law.
Controls on real estate transactions
Purchase abroad by residentsYes.
Purchase locally by nonresidentsYes.
Controls on personal capital transactions
Loans
By residents to nonresidentsYes.
To residents from nonresidentsYes.
Gifts, endowments, inheritances, and legacies
By residents to nonresidentsYes.
To residents from nonresidentsYes.
Transfer of assets
Transfer abroad by emigrantsYes.
Transfer into the country by immigrantsYes.
Provisions specific to commercial banks and other credit institutions
Borrowing abroadYes.
Maintenance of accounts abroadYes.
Differential treatment of deposit accounts in foreign exchangeYes.
Reserve requirementsYes.
Liquid asset requirementsYes.
Open foreign exchange position limits
On nonresident assets and liabilitiesThe limits on commercial banks’ net open foreign positions in foreign exchange are a maximum of 10% of net capital for each currency and a maximum of 20% of net capital for all currencies.
Provisions specific to institutional investorsn.a.
Other controls imposed by securities lawsn.a.
Changes During 2004
Exchange arrangementAugust 1. The CBM discontinued the foreign exchange auctions held under the EEM mechanism and adopted a direct intervention system accompanied by rationing of foreign exchange.
Imports and import paymentsAugust 1. Under a direct intervention system in the foreign exchange market, the CBM began allocating foreign exchange to the primary banks.

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