The structure of general cargo flows between countries in the Western Mediterranean is another factor to be considered in the evolution of 2020 flows. In 2019, containerized cargo flows between the countries on the two shores of the Western Mediterranean were dominated by flows between Spain and Morocco and between Spain and Algeria. Flows between Spain and Morocco accounted for 4.3 million tonnes and flows between Spain and Algeria accounted for 4.6 million tonnes. These flows also represented the lion’s share of all Spanish flows and also made a decisive contribution to Spain becoming the main origin and destination of containerized flows between the two shores (Table 1). Other major flows (in the range of 1 million to 1.5 million tonnes) corresponded to exchange relations between Italy and Morocco, Spain and Mauritania, as well as Italy and Algeria. A third important group of flows (400,000 to 1 million tonnes) was the result of relations between France and Algeria, Spain and Tunisia, Italy and Libya, and finally, Italy and Tunisia.
In 2020, there was a reduction in containerized cargo volume in virtually all relations between countries. Of note among them was the case of flows between Italy and Algeria, based on volume and relative value, with a reduction of 72.3%, i.e. 730,000 tonnes. In contrast, the reduction in relations between Spain and Algeria and Spain and Morocco (2.4% and 3.7%, respectively) was far more contained. However, relations between Italy and Tunisia recorded growth of more than 40%, i.e. nearly 200,000 tonnes. Relations between Spain and Tunisia also increased, though in this case by only 4%. All other relevant relations experienced a general drop in volume.
One of the first effects of the 2020 drop in flows on the structure of flows in the Western Mediterranean was that Spain became the leading country of origin and destination of container flows by accounting for 64.1% of flows between Europe and the Maghreb in 2019 and 68.5% in 2020 (Table 2). This was largely due to the relative bolstering of relations between Spain and Morocco and Spain and Algeria. In contrast, the other countries except for Malta lost part of their share in these container flows, including Italy, which lost more than three percentage points, from 20,3% to 17%. Morocco is the Maghreb country that has acquired the greatest share in relations with Southern Europe, especially through its bolstered relations with Spain.