Algeria and Spain return to commercial normality

After almost two months, Algeria ends trade restrictions with Spain. This decision softens the current crisis between Algiers and Madrid, triggered after Spain’s turn on the Sahara. As the Professional Association of Banking and Financial Entities (APBEF) announced, “after consultation with the foreign trade agents concerned, the precautionary measures (in relation to Spain) are no longer necessary”.

PHOTO/ABEF – Declaration of employers of Algerian banks

This decision was celebrated in both countries, especially in the trade and economic fields. Djamel Eddine Bouabdallah, president of the Algerian-Spanish Trade and Industry Circle, described the measure taken by Algiers as “not very important” and welcomed the return “to the normality of trade”. Bouabdallah stresses that, surely, the economic dimension will no longer be affected in the future, as long as there are no “very significant escalations at the political level”.

Commercial port of Algiers REUTERS / RAMZI BOUDINA
REUTERS/RAMZI BOUDINA – Commercial port of Algiers

The return to normal was inevitable due to the strong economic and trade relations between Spain and Algeria. As Bouabdallah explains, “there is a very important cooperation”. In this sense, the president of the Algerian-Spanish Circle highlights the association between Spanish and Algerian companies.

Bank of Algeria in Algiers REUTERS / RAMZI BOUDINA
REUTERS/RAMZI BOUDINA – Bank of Algeria in Algiers

Algiers reconsiders its decision to freeze foreign trade with Spain after suspending the treaty of friendship, good neighborliness and cooperation. Abdelmadjid Tebboune’s government adopted this measure in response to Madrid’s change of position on the Sahara issue. In March, Spanish President Pedro Sánchez recognized Morocco’s plan for the Sahara as the “most serious, realistic and credible basis” for resolving the conflict.

Transport containers in the port of Barcelona REUTERS/NACHO DOCE
REUTERS / NACHO DOCE – Transport containers in the port of Barcelona

This important step has allowed Madrid to significantly improve its relations with Rabat, which have deteriorated since the entry into Spain of the leader of the Polisario Front, Brahim Ghali, in April 2021. However, the change of position concerning the Sahara has distanced Madrid and Algiersmain ally of the Polisario.

Al Salam Bank in the city of Algiers REUTERS / RAMZI BOUDINA
REUTERS/RAMZI BOUDINA – Al Salam Bank in the city of Algiers

Shortly after the publication of Sánchez’s letter explaining Spain’s new vision regarding the Sahara, Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares assured that the political shift would not affect gas supplies since, according to the Spanish diplomat, Algeria is “a reliable partner”.

However, the Algerian media TSA, citing official state sources, stressed that this decision was a “second historic betrayal of the Saharawi people by Madrid after the disastrous agreement of 1975”. “Finally, Morocco got what it wanted from Spain,” an Algerian diplomat told TSA. In August 2021, Algiers decided to sever diplomatic relations with Rabat after several months of tension.

Algeria-Spain relations
REUTERS/RAMZI BOUDINA – Al Baraka bank branch in the city of Algiers

The European Union has spoken out on the crisis between Spain and Algeria. From Brussels, they described the situation as “extremely worrying” after Algiers’ choice to suspend the treaty of friendship, good neighborliness and cooperation with Madrid. They also asked Algiers to “reverse its decision”.

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