A study published two years ago — the Diagnostic Trade Integration Study (DTIS) update — has helped to push forward the Islamic Republic of Mauritania’s reform agenda, by providing a roadmap for how the small African and Arab country can strategically diversify its exports to grow its wealth and reduce poverty.
“Here in Mauritania we have a lot that we can capitalize on, but we don’t know how. The recommendations of the DTIS Update shone a light on what sectors to work on, how to work on them and what kind of resources are needed,” says Mohamed Lemine Vayda from Mauritania’s Ministry of Commerce.
Diagnostic Trade Integration Studies (DTIS) are intended to uncover barriers to trade and help countries prioritize where investments on trade should be directed. Forty-four percent of Mauritanians live on less than $2 per day, so the DTIS can be a powerful tool to harness trade as an engine for inclusive economic growth.
Mauritania’s first DTIS was prepared in 2001 by the World Bank Group with funding support from the Enhanced Integrated Framework programme, and provided one of the first sector-specific analytic underpinnings. Over a decade later, 20 experts have worked collaboratively with Mauritania’s central government ministries – agriculture, livestock, transport, trade and commerce – to update the DTIS (in French).
“The idea was to update our knowledge about the key constraints to growth in Mauritania. Overall what I like about the report is that it provides a roadmap for reforms that support the diversification of the economy. This is different from the standard reports, which focus solely on the diagnostics part,” says Wael Mansour, senior country economist for Mauritania at the World Bank, who played a role in disseminating the DTIS update.
The DTIS Update has become a key reference in Mauritania. It has underpinned many of Mauritania’s reforms – from the development policy operations of the World Bank that have been implemented for the first time in Mauritania in 2016, to Mauritania’s national development plan, the “Stratégie de Croissance Accélérée et de Prospérité Partagée - SCAPP, 2016-2030.”
Five different ministers attended the launch of the DTIS Update, signaling both the importance of the study, the commitment of the Mauritanian Government, and the success of the collaborative process. It’s also a testimony of the efforts from the Ministry of Trade to the promote the importance of the DTIS for the whole government, as trade has several cross–cutting dimensions.
“It wasn’t a thing that came out of the blue. The leadership of the Ministry of Commerce and the Ministry of Economy and Finance saw more central ministries convinced of the value of such analysis,” Mansour says.