The Mauritanian parliament passed a major fisheries deal between with a Chinese firm, causing controversy in parliament and among the opposition. The deal would give the firm tax and duties exemptions and other preferential conditions many Mauritanians feel would contribute to depletion of the country’s fish stocks, marginalize local fishermen, increase the likelihood of corruption (Al-Akhbar has a long article detailing the conditions, here; [Arabic]). Lawmakers called the deal “embarrassing for Mauritania,” and complained of “tax exemptions on the one hand and exceptions from Mauritanian law on the other”. Others argued in favor, saying the deal would bring needed jobs and industrial development, and “the maximum benefit from our [Mauritania’s] fisheries”; the controversy led to a suspension of the parliamentary debate on the issue and opposition MPs to boycott the vote. Members of the ruling UPR party have also expressed reservations over the deal. Sailors and members of the 25 February youth movement protested outside of parliament recently to voice its opposition to the deal (some of whom were arrested). MPs and ministers agree the deal is “historic” in terms of the country’s fishing industry and its relationship with China; they seem divided as to whether the deal is a net plus for the country in the long term.
UPDATE: Here is the text of the agreement in French.