After several years of unilateral closure, commercial customs in the enclaves of Sebta and Melilla will reopen in January 2023, the Moroccan and Spanish foreign ministers announced.
Meeting on Wednesday, September 21 in New York, Spanish Minister José Manuel Albares and his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita “agreed to work so that the orderly and gradual passage of goods through land customs posts begins in January”.
These crossings have been closed since August 2018 for Melilla and since October 2019 for Sebta. This commercial blockade had also strongly impacted the already fragile economy of the two enclaves.
Indeed, the decision taken unilaterally by Morocco is unprecedented in its duration. Each week that has passed since has caused the two enclaves whose main activity is cross-border trade to lose thousands of euros.
It should be noted that 80% of the products transiting through the two enclaves are intended for the Moroccan market, which represents an annual business volume of between 15 billion and 20 billion dirhamsindicated the Director General of the Administration of Customs and Indirect Taxes (ADII), Nabyl Lakhdar.
The two enclaves are only a transit point and are among the least industrialized Spanish cities, where the unemployment rate is breaking records. With barely 84,829 inhabitants in Sebta and 84,689 in Melilla, these cities have always been turned towards Morocco.
The recent decision was welcomed by the local governments of the two enclaves. The delegate of the government of Melilla, Sabrina Moh, affirmed that this reopening is “very important (…) it was one of the promises made by Pedro Sanchez during his visit to Melilla and he demonstrated how his government is faithfully committed to serve its citizens”.
For its part, the right-wing government of Sebta says it welcomes this decision “with caution”, noting however that it is “positive”.