In a move to end embezzlement by the Polisario separatists who have been trading in the suffering of the civilian Sahraouis in Tindouf camps for decades, Mauritanian authorities required that all trucks should submit to the customs a detailed itinerary showing the origin of the goods, except that in this case the goods are not meant for sale since they are part of the humanitarian assistance donated to the Tindouf camps population.
Mauritanian authorities have born for years the brunt of smuggling of humanitarian aid with the involvement of Polisario and Algerian officials, causing Mauritanian customs significant losses annually.
In the face of the connivance between Polisario leadership with smugglers, illegal migration networks and terrorist groups, Mauritania had in 2017 to close its borders with Algeria and declare its north-eastern borders with Algiers a military zone.
The Mauritanian decision to prevent sale of embezzled humanitarian aid on its market has added a strain to its ties with Algeria, the Polisario’s paymaster.
The decision also cast a light on the low-return of a border crossing between Algeria and Mauritania which was opened last summer to rival Morocco’s Guerguarate crossing.
In October 2018, Mauritania ended trade anarchy by imposing customs duties at its borders with Algeria.
The border crossing with Mauritania was sought by Algerian authorities as a gateway for exports to Africa. But Algeria which imports everything apart from oil and gas has nothing much to export.
Algerian agricultural products could not compete with Moroccan produce which are exported by sea and trucks through the Atlantic road where climate is milder compared to the continental Algerian-Mauritanian route.
In two-days , fresh fruits and vegetables from the hub of Agadir can be sold in the markets of Nouakchott making it harder for Algerian exporters to compete on the Mauritanian market.