UK campaigners lose legal challenge over Morocco trade agreement

Judge dismisses argument that preferential tariff should be limited

Morocco administers about 80 per cent of the 266,000 square kilometres of sparsely populated desert region. AFP
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Campaigners lost a legal challenge in Britain on Monday over trade arrangements with Morocco and goods from Western Sahara.

The Western Sahara Campaign UK (WSCUK) took legal action over regulations set up after Britain left the EU that were designed to replicate Morocco's agreement with Brussels.

The regulations extended a preferential rate of import duty to goods originating in Morocco's Western Sahara and were unlawful, WSCUK told London's High Court. Judge Sara Cockerill dismissed the organisation's claim.

She said in a written ruling that the group’s interpretation of the agreement between the UK and Morocco would mean that “the agreement could not be used as regards products originating in Western Sahara at all”.

Morocco administers about 80 per cent of the 266,000 square kilometres of the sparsely populated desert region, with the remainder held by the Algerian-supported self-declared Sahrawi Arab Republic, a breakaway state which is not recognised by the UN.

Rabat's sovereignty over Western Sahara is supported by a number of Arab and African states and the US.

“We welcome today's verdict. We will continue to work closely with Morocco to maximise £2.7 billion pounds worth of trade between our countries,” a British government representative said.

Erin Alcock, a lawyer for WSCUK, said her client was “disappointed with the court’s decision”.

Updated: December 05, 2022, 6:40 PM