On Monday, September 2, the Coordinator of Agricultural and Livestock Producer Organizations (COAG) warned in a statement that Morocco is strengthening its logistics system to increase the fraudulent agricultural exports from Western Sahara to the European market. This will be happening through a new route, which will connect Dajla, in the occupied territories of Western Sahara, with the main Moroccan ports (Agadir-Casablanca-Tangier) and with Algeciras, operated by the French shipping company CMA CGM.
COAG said that the announcement "has already become a reality" with the departure of the first freighter, the CMA CGM Agadir, from Dajla on August 22. The ship was carrying goods from the Saharawi territories and made necessary stops at ports in Morocco.
For the agrarian organization, this entails "a confirmation of the warnings issued by COAG" after the revision of the trade agreement between the EU and Morocco, approved by the European institutions in early 2019, and which extended the trade advantages of Moroccan exports to the EU to the productions of the Western Sahara. This review sought to "accommodate" the ruling of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) of December 2016, which declared the application of this agreement to the territory of Western Sahara as void, since Morocco and Western Sahara are "two distinct and separate territories," said COAG.
With the beginning of the new horticultural campaign around the corner, COAG shows its "concern about the increase in the volume of productions imported from Western Sahara as Moroccan products". "They cause great damage to Spanish producers, since those volumes overlap with our production schedules and are intended for the same markets," said the organization.
Sources from the coordinator say that "they exercise unfair competition, given their lower costs based on very permissive regulations when it comes to the working conditions, social coverage and wages of workers, or the application of phytosanitary, safety and food quality regulations, etc. Moreover, it is also a case of fraud for European consumers, whose rights are not respected, since they will not have reliable information on the real origin of those imported fruits and vegetables," said the head for fruits and vegetables at COAG, Andrés Góngora.
"The European legislation is clear; fresh fruits and vegetables can only be marketed if the country of origin is clearly indicated," said the COAG. The organization is asking the European Union "to implement stricter border controls to prevent the introduction into the common market of agricultural products grown in the territories of Western Sahara and sold as if they were from Morocco, without the corresponding clarifications in the labeling," said Andrés Góngora.