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.
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.
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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Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the five different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.