Morocco-Spain rail deal creates new link to European markets
In a sign of warming relations, Morocco and Spain have agreed to build a 39-kilometer rail tunnel under the Mediterranean Sea, effectively linking Europe to the Middle East. The initial cost of the channel is set at $30 million, reported Spain’s Development Ministry.
The rail will run beneath the Strait of Gibraltar, connecting the Moroccan coastal city of Tangiers to Spain’s Puntas Palomas. The two nations approved a three-year plan, which mainly consists of seismic testing to determine the most favorable drilling route.
The project is a sign of improved relations between the two monarchies after a 10-day standoff last year when Spain landed 75 troops on the Mediterranean Island of Perejil and removed Moroccan gendarmes who had been deployed there. Rabat claims the tiny islet, only a few hundred meters from its coast. On July 21, Spain agreed to withdraw its troops but firmly reiterated its ownership claims to the land.
The underwater link could facilitate the agricultural trade agreement signed between Morocco and the European Commission (EC) in October. In the spirit of the Barcelona Process, which calls for the gradual liberalization of agricultural trade between the Arab state and the EU, the agreement comprises tariff reductions and the increase of import quotas for many agriculture products. Some 96 percent of Moroccan exports will benefit from preferential access to the EU market. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)