Morocco eyes boycott of Swedish companies over Western Sahara

Outside view of the construction site of the country's first Ikea store outside Casablanca, Morocco, Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2015. (AP)

Morocco said on Thursday it was considering a boycott of Swedish companies operating in the North African kingdom because of Sweden’s position on the conflict over Western Sahara.

The territory has been disputed since a war two decades ago.

The government said Sweden has been campaigning to boycott products from Western Sahara and international companies with a presence there.

“We are heading toward a boycott of Swedish companies according the principle of reciprocity after similar campaigns to boycott Moroccan companies,” the statement issued after the weekly cabinet meeting said.

Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallstrom said in a statement Sweden’s entire policy on Western Sahara is the subject of an internal review.

“The government does not want to preempt this examination. Therefore, the issue of recognition is currently not on the table,” the statement said.

A spokesman for the ministry also said that Sweden has no boycott against exports from Morocco.

The Moroccan government did not give details on how the boycott would be implemented or say whether it knew which Swedish companies could be affected.

“We are considering it, but we hope Sweden would review its position on the Moroccan Sahara,” Mustapha Khalfi, communication minister and government spokesman, told Reuters. “That’s all I can tell you right now.”

However, Moroccan authorities have already blocked the opening of IKEA’s first store this week, citing a lack of permits.

“We as a franchisor are in contact with the franchisee in Morocco, and we know that they are working on opening the store. But the store has not been ready for opening, that is why they have not opened yet.” Kaisa Lyckdal, who works at the press relations office at Inter IKEA Systems, told Al Arabiya News.

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