The dynamism of economic development which is gradually taking place in the north of Morocco raises the apprehension of political actors in the two enclaves occupied by Spain, after Rabat put an end to “smuggling” by closing the border posts , which worsened even more an economic crisis in Sebta and Melilla already well marred by Dame Covid.
The smuggling of goods at its peak, more than two years ago, it was up to 9,000 porters and 10,000 cars living under the aegis of this atypical trade (so called in Spain by “euphemism”). It was displacing at least over 50% of what Sebta imported from the peninsula. Specialists in Spain estimate that goods costing at least 500 million euros, imported by Sebta in 2018, ended up in Morocco. A flourishing trade, to such an extent that about more than two years ago, Morocco and Spain even created a specific passage for portering (Tarajal II). It was a time and today, there are wholesalers who have already experienced a drop of 30 to 40% in their turnover, we recognize on the other side. The domino effect is such that it is estimated that work “has fallen by more than 70%” in the enclave, which easily exceeds the 35% unemployment rate. This is to say if the end of the porterage in Sebta has become a political crisis difficult to manage in the occupied presidents.
In Morocco, the government launched a series of economic projects last year in M’diq, Fnideq and Tetouan, creating a “commercial zone” that would attract international companies to northern Morocco. The aim was to employ the local population who felt the lack of employment opportunities. Also, as soon as the borders were closed in March 2020, they took action to launch projects aimed at “compensating” for the impact of smuggling through other alternative activities and projects, creating new jobs. Concretely, on the ground the works are going well with for example the construction of an industrial zone in the district “Haidara” in the city of Fnideq, where the technical studies were completed, and the excavation works, of construction of roads, water and electricity networks, public lighting and disinfection are underway. Recently, three investment agreements were signed with international companies to upgrade Mdiq-Fnideq.
Spanish media sources said Morocco was finalizing the economic stimulus plan for the northern region, which was hit by the repercussions of the pandemic, which would negatively affect economic dynamics in Sebta and Melilla. Solicited by MoroccoLatestNews, the researcher and military expert, Mohamed Choucair described these international developments by saying that ” the recent policies adopted in Morocco aim to prioritize the economic approach with political objectives over the military solution, as the unified objective is clearly the recovery of the two presidents “. Choucair further added that “the economic approach was based on the closing of the crossing points of Sebta and Melilla, then the headquarters of Spanish products, alongside the rehabilitation of the Mediterranean at the same time, as well as the construction of a group of ports in the region of north, and the creation of a free economic zone in Fnideq“.
The speaker continues: “The projects are multidimensional, but they share a common objective, which is to create employment opportunities for the population affected by the closure of the two border posts, and thus contribute to the rehabilitation of the northern region, which is the gateway to entry of Morocco on the European continent ”declared again,the researcher, who concludes that “Spain absorbed Moroccan demarches and strongly protested against economic projects,like the famous fish farm“.