Trade between Morocco and Algeria is at the lowest level in a quarter of a century

The volume of trade between Morocco and Algeria decreased last year by 62% year-on-year to record 1.3 billion dirhams ($130 million), the lowest level since 1999.

Trade between the two neighboring countries has decreased significantly since the severing of diplomatic relations in 2021, after many years of tense relations due to several disputes, most notably the Sahara issue.

According to data collected by “Al-Sharq” from the Exchange Office, the governmental body concerned with foreign trade statistics in Morocco, Rabat’s imports from Algeria last year did not exceed 650 million dirhams, a 61% decrease from their levels a year ago. Moroccan exports were at approximately the same level, at about 653 million dirhams, a decline of 18%.

For comparison, intra-regional trade in 2021 amounted to about 6.9 billion dirhams ($695 million), of which 5.8 billion dirhams were Moroccan imports from Algeria.

From gas to dates
After natural gas represented the lion’s share of Algeria’s exports to Morocco, dates became the largest product purchased by the Kingdom, as the value of what it imported last year amounted to 441 million dirhams, representing 67% of the total value of imports, while spices, glass, and plastic are Algeria’s most prominent imports.

Rabat was obtaining Algerian gas in exchange for the passage of a pipeline to export it to Europe through its territory, but it was decided not to renew the contract between the two parties in October 2021, so Rabat then resorted to using the pipeline located in its territory to import natural gas from the global market via Spain.

In exchange for the decline in trade with Algeria, trade exchange between Morocco and Spain, which is considered the most prominent trading partner of the Kingdom, increased. The value of trade exchange last year recorded 209 billion dirhams, an increase of 11% year on year.

Idris Lakrini, professor of international relations at Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakesh and head of the Maghreb Action Organization, saw that “trade between the two countries was weak even before the severing of diplomatic relations, because the borders had been closed for many decades.”

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