Madrid’s new stance on Western Sahara boosts trade between Morocco and Spain
Atalayar | 11th December 2023
By Margarita Arredondas
Trade relations between Morocco and Spain are at an all-time high. Since the government of Pedro Sánchez changed the traditional Spanish position on the Sahara issue, recognising the Moroccan autonomy plan as the most credible and serious proposal to resolve the conflict, both countries have boosted their ties in different areas.
In this regard, economic and trade cooperation between the two kingdoms is particularly noteworthy. According to figures published by The Objective, Spain is expected to reach a new record in the volume of trade with Morocco this year. According to the Spanish media, Spain will end 2023 with a new maximum in trade with Morocco.
This is due, in part, to the boost that bilateral relations have received following President Sánchez’s change of position on the Western Sahara issue. In this way, Madrid has become Morocco’s leading economic partner, while Rabat is also one of Spain’s most important partners outside the EU.
Trade flows between the two countries are likely to surpass the records recorded last year thanks to the strengthening of diplomatic relations. According to the latest data, during the period from January to September last year, Spanish exports to Morocco increased by 3.2%, while imports increased by 2.1% of total trade.
Given this trend, the growth rates observed in the first nine months of 2023 are likely to continue in the fourth quarter.
As for the products that stand out among Moroccan imports to Spain, there was a significant increase in purchases of fruit and vegetables from the North African country. Likewise, Spain imported household appliances, fish, crustaceans, molluscs, automobiles and knitwear from Morocco.
The Spanish newspaper points out that ’changing the Spanish government’s position on the Sahara issue was an essential key to increasing the volume of exports and imports between the two countries’. In this regard, The Objective points out that Spanish exports to Morocco at the end of last year amounted to more than 11.7 billion euros, an increase of 23.7% compared to the previous period.
Madrid’s annual exports to Rabat at the end of last September amounted to some 9.15 billion euros, an increase of 3.1% compared to the same period last year, while imports registered a figure of more than 6.75 billion euros in the same period, up 2.1% compared to the same period in 2022.
Badr Zaher Al-Azraq, an economic analyst quoted by Al-Arab, points out that the political and diplomatic ties between the two countries, the economic rapprochement and the large volume of investments and trade exchanges "will be strengthened by the joint organisation of the 2030 World Cup". "All these factors will move in the direction of strengthening the investment presence between the two countries through a set of joint projects," he adds.
Continuing the rapprochement with Rabat, Spanish media reported that the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, commissioned the Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, to prepare an official visit to Morocco to meet with the Moroccan King Mohammed VI.
Sánchez recently held a conversation with the Moroccan Prime Minister, Aziz Akhannouch, with whom he stressed the importance of diplomatic relations and trade exchanges between the two countries. During the conversation, emphasis was also placed on strengthening the agreed bilateral agenda, in addition to the new opportunities offered by this renewed relationship between Rabat and Madrid.
On the other hand, last week, representatives of several institutions from the Asturias region - in northern Spain - began a visit to Morocco as part of a trade mission organised by the Asturias foreign promotion company Asturex. The organisers explained in a statement that the visit was aimed at exploring investment opportunities in the Kingdom and boosting the sales of the institutions of this Spanish entity in the neighbouring country.
Asturex said that the institutions participating in this mission, which includes companies specialising in the mining and construction sectors, will hold meetings with Moroccan companies and economic organisations, which is an "important step" for Spain.
He added that trade relations between Spain and Morocco are considered very important, as Spain is Morocco’s main supplier and client in the world. It is a priority country in the framework of the "Africa Horizon" strategy.