Relations continue to deteriorate between Spain and Algeria, as trade reaches a stalemate, according to Middle East Eye.
In June 2022, Algeria imposed trade sanctions on Spain in response to their change in position and recognition of Morocco’s territorial claim over Western Sahara. Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune referred to this change as an “unjustifiable turnaround.”
Today, we are witnessing how Spain’s change in position is greatly affecting their economy– with exports from Spain to Algeria having decreased by more than 80 percent. Data from the Spanish Ministry of Tourism indicates that, before Spain’s change in position, they were exporting more than $1.6 billion worth of goods a year to Algeria, compared to the $213 million they exported the year following their change.
This issue also has the potential to create a strain on the relationship between the European Union and Spain. Orriols, the international area director from the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce, stated “the European Union is not doing anything to protect Spain against this decision by Algeria, and Italy and France are taking advantage of the situation to cover the exports that would have gone from Spain to Algeria.” In February of this year, Spain submitted 62 incident reports concerning the challenges Spanish certificates of origin face at Algerian ports. These incidents serve as a catalyst for Spain’s efforts to urge the European Union to ensure the effective implementation of the free trade agreement between the EU and Algeria.
This decrease in exports has had such profound impacts on Spanish companies, the European Union has granted aid to the companies most affected.
According to Eduard Soler i Lecha, a North Africa expert, the Spanish government faces a dilemma in resolving the crisis with Algeria due to the potential impact on their relationship with Morocco. Any actions taken by Spain regarding Algeria has the potential to hurt the reconciliation process Spain has worked so hard on. Soler explains that while Spain’s relationship with Algeria mainly revolves around energy, the bond with Morocco is more complex, involving various factors such as immigration, and counterterrorism.
Contributing to Spain’s precarious situation, Soler warns that the Western Saharan issue is “no longer a frozen conflict.” With hostilities occurring on both sides and tensions rising, there continues to be an air of unpredictability for all involved.