surinenglish

As Brexit looms, Gibraltar welcomes the idea of a Tangier trade office

There are already air and maritime links with nearby Morocco
There are already air and maritime links with nearby Morocco / SUR
  • The office would be run privately by the Gibraltar and Morocco Business Association and aim to develop further trade and commercial links

The Gibraltar and Morocco Business Association (GMBA) is proposing to open a trade office in Tangier, and the idea has been welcomed by the government.

The office will be run privately by the GMBA and will aim to develop further trade and commercial links between Gibraltar and Morocco. This is in line with the association's objectives, which are to foster business, educational, tourism, sport and cultural links between the two places.

It is also in line with the Gibraltar government's policy of developing and exploring new markets, and although the plan is not directly related to Brexit, it is interesting in the context of Britain's proposed departure from the European Union.

However, the Gibraltar authorities are keen to stress that the Tangier trade office plan is not due to fears that the border will be closed after Brexit.

A press release issued by the government on Thursday recalls that in 1969, when Franco closed the border, Gibraltar depended on labour and the importation of goods from the Spanish side. The economy underwent a fundamental change at that time which changed the focus from imports and labour by land to imports and labour by sea, largely from Morocco across the Strait.

"The situation today is clearly different in that the border is not going to close," says the official statement, referring to Brexit. "The continuation of a fluid border for persons and goods is in the interests of both sides. Gibraltar imports some 1.5 billion euros a year in goods and materials from Spain. The latest figures show that 15,329 residents of Spain work in Gibraltar, and that 9,705 of these are Spanish nationals. There is clearly a commonality of interests between Gibraltar and Spain in identifying positive solutions post-Brexit. However, this does not conflict with developing and exploring new commercial markets in Morocco and elsewhere".

GMBA president Clive Reed is excited about the Tangier project and that the idea has been accepted in principle. "Now we have to discuss the detail," he said.