MAURITANIA – Nouakchott has raised custom taxes on Moroccan fruits and vegetables transported through the El Guerguerat border crossing to Mauritania to 171% resulting in a surge in prices of Moroccan goods.

The increased prices of Moroccan goods have been noticeable since the beginning of 2024, raising concerns among consumers.

This unexpected increase in customs taxes has received attention from the Mauritanian Consumer Forum, which has strongly condemned this measure.

This act could “exacerbate the challenges faced by Mauritanian consumers,” the forum argued.

“We condemn this measure, which aggravates concerns and erodes the purchasing power of the consumer, already burdened by the continuous rise in prices, the monopoly, and high prices,” the forum lamented in a statement on January 6.

The forum emphasized the need to strike a balance between supporting homegrown items and providing essential consumer goods, to ensure the purchasing power of Mauritanian low-income consumers.

In addition, the forum stressed the necessity to deliberate with civil society actors on any policy that affects consumers before endorsing it.

It also called on the relevant authorities to take urgent measures to alleviate this situation to preserve consumer rights and reduce the continuous rise in prices.

Morocco exports a variety of fresh produce to Mauritania. According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity, in 2021, Morocco exported USD 282 million worth of goods to Mauritania.

The top three products exported by Morocco to Mauritania were soybean oil (USD 19.1 million), insulated wire (USD 18.3 million), and processed fish (USD 17.8 million) 

The demand comes as Morocco faces various challenges due to water scarcity and drought.

Recent data indicated that the sector’s annual economic contribution fell from 6.9% in the first quarter of 2023 to 5.2% in the fourth quarter.

This drop, according to Morocco’s Higher Commission for Planning (HCP), is the result of a prolonged water shortage and unfavorable weather, with temperatures above the seasonal average, damaging crops.

The report detailed the non-cereal categories that were most negatively impacted were fruits and vegetables, which led to a decrease in the amount of agricultural output that was exported.

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