Analysis of foreign trade volumes between the two shores of the Western Mediterranean reveals how the 2020 health crisis led to a reduction in trade flows. This reduction affected flows in both directions and the two product groups under study, with the exception of imports from the Maghreb to European countries of goods other than energy products and crude minerals. These reduced flows were in line with global foreign trade trends, albeit with widespread decreases in economic value and volumes. The increased exports from the Maghreb in the GTMO 5+5 region undoubtedly represented the most significant characteristic of foreign trade evolution in 2020 in this region.
In fact, the same pattern emerged when the relative weight of trade of the European GTMO 5+5 countries with the Maghreb was considered. Only flows to the European GTMO 5+5 countries of goods other than energy products and crude minerals increased in relative weight and, therefore, increased trade integration took place only in these flows. When the monthly evolution in 2020 compared to 2019 is considered, the unique behaviour of European imports of other products from the Maghreb is also worth noting. This evolution reveals that volumes of these imports in the first half of 2020 remained similar to those of the previous year and underwent strong growth in the latter half of the year, while the other flows recorded a sharp decrease after the first quarter of the year compared to the previous year.
Finally, it is worth pointing out that there were some particularities linked to relationships between individual countries. With respect to energy products and crude minerals, the decrease in flows occurred across the board, in both imports and exports, although it was more pronounced in some cases, such as flows from Libya to Spain. The same can be said of European exports to the Maghreb, which registered losses in volume. In addition, it should be noted that exports to Morocco, although negative, were less significant than the rest. In the case of exports from the Maghreb to the countries on the northern shore of the Western Mediterranean, Spain and France’s relationships with Morocco and Algeria in particular were the main drivers of growth in these flows in 2020.
In short, trade flows between the two shores of the Western Mediterranean were negatively affected, although export flows from the Maghreb to the northern shore, excluding energy products and crude minerals, increased in volume and relative weight in the total of these flows in the European GTMO 5+5 countries. This evolution seems to be in line with some predictions concerning the redefinition of supply chains towards closer locations to avoid disruptions such as those caused by the pandemic. However, this conclusion may be considered premature and it will be necessary to study developments over the coming years to confirm it.