Controversial container route has opened
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And another vessel is on its way.

Published 12 September 2019

The container ship CMA CGM Agadir has arrived in Algeciras, Spain, last week. It is the first shipment on Morocco’s new maritime route, connecting the plantations in Dakhla, occupied Western Sahara, to ports in Morocco proper and the port of final destination: Algeciras in Spain. 

Western Sahara Resource Watch (WSRW) considers it likely that the vessel contained fresh produce tiled in the parts of Western Sahara that are under Moroccan occupation. The company operating the vessel, French shipping company CMA CGM, had announced it had been specifically contracted for that purpose earlier this year. The company never responded to WSRW’s questions on the problematic nature of transporting products out of a territory that is considered under occupation.

Another vessel, the CMA CGM Tanger (IMO: 9259836, flag: Morocco) is expected to anchor in Dakhla tomorrow, 14 September. According to CMA CGM, this is the second vessel to take the route from Dakhla to Algeciras.

Last week, the organization representing Spanish farmers COAG issued a press release, warning that these shipments present an unfair competition to Spain’s farmers. COAG is reaching out to the European Union to implement stricter border controls.

The vegetable shipments are taking place within the framework of a revised EU-Morocco trade deal that formally extends trade benefits granted to Moroccan products to products from the parts of Western Sahara that Morocco holds under military occupation since 1975. The agreement was amended to explicitly refer to Western Sahara, after the Court of Justice of the European Union had declared the EU-Morocco deal inapplicable in Western Sahara, citing that Morocco has no sovereignty over or mandate to administer the territory. Furthermore, the Court had specified that since Western Sahara is a “distinct and separate” territory, the people of the territory must consent in order to have any EU-Morocco agreement lawfully affect their land. But the Saharawis have never consented to the new deal – rather, they have voiced their opposition every step of the way. It thus remains to be seen whether the newly revised agreement holds up in Court, as the Western Sahara liberation movement, the Polisario Front, is expected to take further legal action.

CMA CGM Agadir (IMO: 9265586,) changed flag from Portugal to Morocco in August this year. 

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