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Trade Committee advocates lower tariffs in Western Sahara

A proposal to lower tariffs in the territory of Western Sahara to the same level as Morocco, was backed by the International Trade Committee on Monday.

The proposal was adopted by 25 votes to 9 with 2 abstentions after the European Commission and Morocco agreed on a traceability mechanism, upon the request of the Trade Committee.

This mechanism guarantees that products coming from the Western Sahara can be clearly tracked, to make sure the benefits of the lower tariffs go to the local population and that they are measurable, a key condition to MEPs’ backing.

In the accompanying resolution, adopted by 24 votes to 9 with 3 abstentions, the MEPs emphasised that “the [local] Sahrawi people have the right to develop while awaiting a political solution” on the status of the area of Western Sahara. Preferential trade tariffs granted to Morocco were withdrawn from the territory following a 2016 decision of the EU Court of Justice.

MEPs also point out that the tariff preferences enjoyed by the territory between 2013 and 2016 had a positive impact on the agricultural and fisheries sector, investment in infrastructure, health and education. The non-application of the preferences, in turn, would have “adverse effects”, they say.

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