Ports, infrastructures and transport companies backbone cross-border cooperation between Morocco and Spain

‘Cross-border cooperation in the maritime, transport and logistics sector: challenges and opportunities’, was the title of the second round table discussion of the 29 May day of the logistics meeting organised at the Barceló hotel by the Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Tangier. 
X Encuentro Hispano-Marroquí Marítimo, Transporte y Logística
The 10th Spanish-Moroccan Maritime, Transport and Logistics Meeting - PHOTO/ATALAYAR
  1. Port of Motril
  2. Tanger City Port 
  3. Port of Valencia
  4. Calsina Carré 
  5. Moroccan Interprofessional Federation of Red Fruits
  6. Marcotran 
  7. Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima Regional Investment

The afternoon session of the first day of the 10th Spanish-Moroccan Maritime, Transport and Logistics Meeting, which is being held at the Barceló Hotel in Tangiers, began with a round table discussion on cross-border cooperation, moderated by Santiago Muelas, of the Romeu Group. 

X Encuentro Hispano-Marroquí Marítimo, Transporte y Logística
The 10th Spanish-Moroccan Maritime, Transport and Logistics Meeting - PHOTO/ATALAYAR

Port of Motril

On behalf of the Port Authority of Motril, its director, Francisco José González Méndez, explained that this port is committed to the development of commercial lines for passengers and goods with Morocco, in order to increase commercial traffic with the northern part of the country, especially with Nador, Al Hoceima and Tangiers, in order to grow in both goods and passenger traffic. 

González Méndez particularly valued the commitment of the shipping companies, especially Balearia, ‘who are the ones who really bear the high costs and losses that are recorded when the new lines start operating’. 

The head of the Motril Port Authority also explained that new passenger inspection areas, pre-boarding areas and new customs inspection areas are being built through a public-private partnership between the Port Authority itself and the terminal operators. 

‘We are not only improving the infrastructure, but also the services, so that customers have an easy, fast and efficient passage through our facilities. We are proud of our past and we are clear about our future: our priority is our customers", he stressed. 

He also referred to Operation Crossing the Strait, a very important element: ‘We have a daily capacity of 2,000 places with ports such as Tangiers or Al Hoceima; it is an important relationship for the destinations of Marseille, and we want to strengthen these tourist links. The people and the common history is what unites Spain and Morocco’.

Jamil Ouazzani y Francisco José González
Jamil Ouazzani and Francisco José González - PHOTO/ATALAYAR

Tanger City Port 

Jamil Ouazzani, Director of Marketing and Strategic Intelligence, attended on behalf of Tanger City Port, who explained the port conversion project, which is almost finished, except for the cable car: ‘It will have four stations and is a very important project for us, because we are aware of sustainability and the cable car is a green environment that is not only for tourists, but also for the inhabitants of the city’. 

According to Ouazzani, ‘we are just 14 kilometres from the Spanish coast and I think we have a transparent relationship with good communication, sharing the same visions, with ports such as Malaga or Tenerife, with which we signed an agreement in 2019 for cruises. We have seen the problems in Venice, Barcelona, Marseille, and we do not want the same thing to happen. This requires the exchange of information and good practices. And we hope that other ports will join this project’. 

Jamil Ouazzani
Jamil Ouazzani - PHOTO/ATALAYAR

Port of Valencia

Representing the Port of Valencia at this event was Cristina Rodriguez, from the Port Authority, which also manages the ports of Sagunto and Gandia. 

Rodriguez explained the new projects they are developing, such as the new northern terminal of the Port of Valencia, which will double the current capacity of the port, the first in Spain and the fourth in Europe, by means of a public-private partnership between the Port Authority and MSC: ‘It will have a beach with six railway tracks, with trains of up to one kilometre, and will create up to 5,000 direct and indirect jobs. All the energy will be renewable, which is a qualitative and quantitative leap’. 

The head of the Port Authority of Valencia also pointed out that, ‘in the framework of collaboration with Morocco, we have to generate a new connectivity between the two countries, with improvements in sustainability and the environment, to achieve zero emissions by minimising the emissions of lorries by loading them onto ships. And also improve training, collaborating with the port of Tangiers through the exchange of information that can improve us all", she concluded. 

Cristina Rodríguez
Cristina Rodríguez - PHOTO/ATALAYAR

Calsina Carré 

Paco Ceballos, head of Calsina Carré in Morocco, recalled the trajectory of this company in Morocco, where it began 21 years ago: ‘We did it in phases, getting to know the laws, the customs, the way of working, the market at that time. You have to adapt, get to know the customs system, work with local partners? This first phase lasted 11 years and helped us to gain confidence and learn how to work in Morocco’. 

As for the challenges ahead of 2030, Ceballos stressed that ‘Morocco is the entry point for Africa; improvements in infrastructures and help from the Administration are needed to reach an agreement and solve the problems that arise’. 

Paco Ceballos
Paco Ceballos - PHOTO/ATALAYAR

Moroccan Interprofessional Federation of Red Fruits

Mohammed Alamouri, from the Moroccan Interprofessional Federation of Red Fruits Interproberries Maroc, spoke about this sector, which has only been present in the country for 30 years. 

Alamouri talked about the beginnings of this sector in the country, with the arrival of strawberry crops in Agadir in the 80s, raspberries in 2005 and blueberries in 2008, ‘always with Spanish pioneers, who were looking for more hours of sunshine and to reach the market better, taking advantage of the logistics of the ports of Tangiers and Algeciras’. 

Morocco currently has 12,300 hectares of red fruits in Morocco, of which only 2,500 are strawberries. The main crops are blueberries and then raspberries. The first destination is Spain, not only for consumption, but also for redistribution. 

Alamouri vindicated the quality of Moroccan berries in the face of accusations made by Spanish growers: ‘There is no fruit that leaves the country that does not meet the quality standards demanded by the client. Our produce is just as expensive as that produced in Huelva, because everything has to come to Morocco and back, and the cost adds up. The only advantage is the workers' wages, because of the standard of living. But the quality, safety and sustainability are the same as products from other European countries,’ he said. 

Mohamed Alamouri
Mohammed Alamouri - PHOTO/ATALAYAR


Luis Pérez, Marcotran's director for Morocco, detailed the four pillars on which his company's activity is based: ‘Our own diverse fleet, with high quality standards and express and ultra-express transit times; our own extensive logistics network throughout the world; investment and development in all areas of the company; and a policy of corporate social responsibility applied to the company, but with special emphasis on the railway aspect, which makes Marcotran much more efficient and sustainable’. 

Mohamed Alamouri, Cristina Rodríguez y Jamil Ouazzani
Mohammed Alamouri, Cristina Rodríguez and Jamil Ouazzani - PHOTO/ATALAYAR

Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima Regional Investment Centre

The session was closed by Noussaira El Harrak, project manager of the Supply and Territorial Promotion Division of the Regional Investment Centre of Tangier-Tetouan-Al Hoceima, who explained that ‘at the Centre we treat all investors in the same way, wherever they are from. The process is entirely digital through our platform, without the need for them to travel to the office. We also have another digital platform available in four languages, which serves to accompany and advise investors, providing information on the many incentive programmes that we have in place’. 

El Harrak highlighted the region's territorial offer for companies wishing to set up in the region: ‘We have 26 economic and industrial zones, 20 of which are already operational. We have a high-level infrastructure, we have the first AVE (high speed train) in Africa, the port of Tangier Med, connected to more than 170 ports around the world...’.

Noussaira El Harrak y Mohamed Alamouri
Noussaira El Harrak and Mohammed Alamouri - PHOTO/ATALAYAR

She underlined the importance of the new investment charter which, together with other national and regional programmes such as Nordev, can lead to a bonus of up to 30% of the investment.