Modest oil reserves were discovered at Mauritania's Chinguetti oil field at the turn of the new millennium. CNPC quickly saw the potential and currently operates three exploration projects in the country. In 2006, China and Mauritania signed a $2 million cooperation deal eying the health, economic and sociocultural sectors, Business in Africa Online reports.
The close Chinese-Mauritanian relationship has survived one military coup in 2005, and another coup in 2008. During elections held in between the two coups, both of the main presidential candidates praised Mauritania’s ties with China. “The friendly ties with China can be called a model. I, if elected, will continue the path of strengthening the bilateral relations with all my efforts,” said then presidential candidate Sidi Mohammed Abdalahi.
Typical of this cordial partnership is the Nouakchott Port project, built by a Chinese state company and financed through a $295 million preferential loan provided by the Chinese government. The project extended the port at Nouakchott by more than 0.55 miles. “The loan is refundable in 20 years, including five years of grace period, with only an interest rate of 2 percent,” the China Daily reports. Bilateral trade in 2010 was estimated at $1.096 billion.