Shift in Spain-Morocco relations might affect Western Sahara-produced tomatoes

Spain has taken a step towards resolving the crisis with Rabat by considering the Moroccan proposal to establish Western Sahara as autonomy with administrative, legislative, and judicial capacity within the Kingdom of Morocco, as the most serious, credible, and realistic basis for the resolution of this dispute.

On Friday, the President of the Government of Spain, Pedro Sanchez, sent a letter to the King of Morocco, Mohamed VI, in which he highlighted Morocco's serious and credible efforts, within the framework of the United Nations, to find a mutually acceptable solution. Both countries are indissolubly united by affections, history, geography, interests and a shared friendship, he added.

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In February, the President of the Commission, Ursula Von der Leyen, visited Morocco and met with the President of the Moroccan Government, Aziz Ajanuch. After this visit, Von der Leyen announced the EU would invest in the Maghreb country 1,600 million euro in subsidies between 2021 and 2027. "We have built close and solid strategic cooperation with Morocco," said Von der Leyen at the end of his visit highlighting the historical ties that the EU has with the Maghreb country, as it was the EU's first economic partner on the African continent.

The tomatoes of the Sahara
One of the consequences of this decision, in which the Spanish Government follows the path set by the European Commission, would be that the agricultural production of the Sahara will be considered Moroccan and will be able to enter the EU legally.

The agricultural production in Western Sahara is concentrated in a perimeter of about 70 km around the city of Dakhla. Its expansion, based on the cultivation mainly of tomato (around 80%) and melon (around 20%), began in the first years of this century, favored by a favorable climate that allows cultivating and harvesting the products 2 or 3 weeks before the Sous region, which allows positioning them more advantageously in the European markets.

Dakhla's phytosanitary conditions are also conducive. In addition, since the region's water for irrigation contains phosphate, the tomatoes produced there have high quality and consistency, something that's important for long-distance transport.



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