Relations between Algeria and Morocco have been tense since 2021. They will be exacerbated by Algiers' decision, effective since mid-January, to ban the entry into Algeria of goods that have transited through Moroccan ports. CMA CGM and Maersk are reorganizing their services accordingly.
Relations have been tense between Algeria and Morocco since the breakdown of diplomatic relations in 2021, which led to the closure of Algerian airspace to Moroccan aircraft and the non-renewal of the contract to operate the Maghreb-Europe Gas Pipeline (GEM), which expired on October 31, 2021.
The pipeline carried Algerian gas to the Iberian peninsula via Moroccan territory. Algeria also demanded that Spain not resell the gas it delivers to Morocco.
Since mid-January, Algeria has banned the entry into Algeria of goods transiting through Moroccan ports, in reaction to actions and decisions deemed "hostile" by Algiers.
The decision found resonance when a note from the Association of Banks and Financial Establishments (ABEF) shared on Algerian social networks enjoined commercial banks to refuse direct debit operations for transport contracts that provide for transshipment or transit through Moroccan ports. .
CMA CGM wasted no time in announcing on January 19 a reorganization of its services to Algeria (Agapome, Euronaf and Euromar), "with immediate effect". From now on, all goods destined for Oran, Mostaganem and Ghazaouet will transit either Algeciras or Valencia. The two Moroccan ports replace Tanger Med". The first vessels concerned are the Constship Cub, Constship Ray and Constship Gin.
Maersk has also ruled out Tanger Med. Freight to the Algerian ports of Algiers and Skikda has been transshipped via Barcelona since January 22, and via the Catalan port and Algeciras to Bejaia (since January 21). For Oran, the Andalusian port was already the transshipment hub.
The affair is the subject of much comment in Morocco, where exporters fear an increase in freight rates, while some media suggest that the big neighbor is seeking to thwart the trajectory of Tanger Med, which has rapidly established itself as one of the biggest in the Mediterranean. A danger above all for Spain's twin port on the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar. In this case, the Spanish ports are in a stronger position.
Tense relations with its neighbors
Relations are tense between Algeria and Morocco and some of its neighbors, as Algerian Foreign Minister Ahmed Attaf has made no secret of. In an interview with Al Jazeera at the end of December, he laid bare the state of Algiers' diplomatic relations with Paris, Madrid and Rabbat.
A visit to France by President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, which has been postponed several times, is still scheduled, but the subjects on the agenda are not light: French nuclear tests in the Algerian Sahara, for which Algeria is demanding "recognition" and "compensation", and economic partnership.
Bilateral relations with Spain have suffered in recent times due to old unresolved disputes. Algiers recalled its ambassador in March 2022 after Madrid supported Moroccan theses on the Western Sahara. Algiers then appointed a new ambassador to Spain last November, after Madrid reversed its position.
In this interview, the Minister said that the Moroccan autonomy plan, presented in 2007, was designed to bury any other political solution and impose a fait accompli on the international community. By 2023, Algerian imports were expected to exceed $40 billion, according to official estimates. The volumes transported by Maersk and CMA CGM were not communicated.