Smuggling : After Melilla, Ceuta expresses concern over potential Moroccan restrictions

After the Moroccan warnings over merchandise smuggling, according to the declarations of the head of a merchant syndicate in November, another likewise association based in Ceuta expresses concerns.

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Do Moroccan customs authorities seek to impose duties on the smuggling via cars operated between Ceuta and Fnideq ? Once again, political representatives from the enclave warn of the imminence of such project.

The «Cross-border Cooperation Agency in Ceuta», an association founded in December 2018 and led by local head of a political party Abdelmalik Mohamed, is blowing the whistle on the matter according to El Pueblo de Ceuta in its Friday edition. «Morocco aims to 'keep records' of all the transporters who use cars to deliver goods», the association announced in a statement.

According to the same source, «the new situation is more complex», as it explains that the data retrieved would be used to control the amount of customs crosses for each potential transporter and the volume of products transported, in order to «apply taxes» or «sanctions».

Similar concerns already expressed in Melilla

Once the «record-keeping» operation completed, the next step would supposedly involve letters sent to the drivers' residential addresses. The task will be entrusted with the Tetouan and M'Diq local taxation authorities. «The car owners will no longer be able to claim they are only drivers on the job. From that point on, they will be considered as fully responsible», the association further explains.

The Ceuta-based organization believes that, if the reform was to come into application, «the transporters' time is soon to be over ... their numbers will plummet. The duties and sanctions will be harsh and they will end up abandoning the smuggling business altogether».

The cry for help launched by the «Cross-border Cooperation Agency in Ceuta» is almost identical to the one of Abdeslam Mohamed, president of the Melilla border merchants association (ACSEMEL). Indeed, in November, the former alerted on the Moroccan authorities' plans to ban goods smuggling definitively by February 2019. For the record, in Melilla alone, the smuggling industry is a 1.2 billion Euros business (13 billion Moroccan dirhams).

During the oral questions sessions at the Parliament on Tuesday 22nd of January, General Affairs minister Lahcen Daoudi announced that the government aims to tackle smuggling in the Eastern and Northern regions of the country and «give dignified work» to said regions' inhabitants.

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