The court of the European Union has rendered its decision in the context of the appeals for annulment brought by the Polisario Front against the Morocco-EU trade agreements. It is possible to know more by reading the press release nr 166/21 of the court of the EU, but concretely, what should we retain?
The impacts for an importer
Before delving into the reasons for this decision, let’s measure its impact from the point of view of a European importer. First of all, the revocation of the two targeted agreements is not immediate but will take effect in two months, around the end of November. The first agreement (Council Decision 2019/441 of 4 March 2019) aims to authorize certain European vessels to fish in Moroccan waters including the waters off Western Sahara. Here, the impact of the revocation of this agreement is nil for international trade actors. The second agreement revoked (Council Decision 2019/217 of 28 January 2019) concerned the extension of tariff preferences (defined in the EU-Morocco agreement of 1 March 2000) to products originating in Western Sahara. Here the impact can be very important for importers. Regarding the list of products concerned, it is too complex to summarize here. It is necessary to refer to Article 11 of the EU-Morocco agreement and in particular to the annexes quoted there. If you are importing products from Western Sahara, it is therefore essential to read the texts in order to know the impacts on your business, or to be accompanied. On this subject, Customs Bridge is working on a personalized regulatory monitoring system whose objective is to manage this kind of changes as easily as possible.
The reasons for this decision
What is the reason for this decision? Since 1976 and the end of the Spanish protectorate over this territory, it has been disputed. Today, while this territory is largely occupied by Morocco, which claims it, the Polisario Front, which represents the indigenous Sahrawis, supported by Algeria, is fighting against this occupation. This conflict, which has been going on for years, has recently undergone a number of twists and turns, such as the recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the territory by the United States in exchange for stronger ties between Morocco and Israel. The EU’s ruling on the Polisario Front’s request is the latest twist in the case. As we can see from this decision, tariffs are one of the most used geopolitical tools in non-military conflicts.