Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is on his first visit to Algeria
Algiers – Hocine Bousalah
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy arrived in Algiers on Thursday as part of an official visit to take part in the fifth Algerian-Spanish meeting in accordance with the 2002 treaty signed between
the two Mediterranean countries. The Spanish leader was received by Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal at the airport, for a visit aimed at expanding the two countries' economic partnership, especially in non-petroleum related areas.
Rajoy, accompanied by his Foreign, Interior, Industry, Education and Commerce ministers, will jointly chair the meeting with Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika on Friday.
A statement issued by the Algerian president's office on Wednesday said that Rajoy was personally invited by Bouteflika, and that the meeting will look into how bilateral relations between the two countries can be improved.
Algerian-Spanish relations are on a good footing after considerable progress in various fields over the past decade, since the signing of the Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighbourhood and Cooperation in October 2002 in Madrid.
The previous high-level meeting, held in January 2002 in Madrid, allowed the countries to enact a comprehensive review of bilateral relations and their development in all fields.
The two leaders will also discuss cooperation in the area of fossil fuels, renewable energy, fishing and water treatment, while a group of businessmen will launch an Algerian-Spanish trade circle with hopes of developing it into a fully-fledged chamber of commerce.
Rajoy's first visit to Algeria since his election is a new step towards boosting and expanding the political and economic relationship between the two countries. The meeting is also set to bear fruit in the form of cooperation agreements which will strengthen bilateral relations.
In November, the two countries signed a memorandum of understanding to establish joint corporations for the purpose of building 50,000 housing units in Algeria. Algerian Minister of Industry, Sherif Rehmani, confirmed that 20 more projects were "under consideration," related to technical, electric, electronic and chemical industries as well as cement manufacture and renewable energy.
Spain imports over 40 percent of its gas supply from Algeria but is seeking to increase its exports to the North African country as the economic crisis bites. It is also keen to salvage its deteriorating economy with the help of Algeria which has allocated $286bn in its 2010 to 2014 five-year plan for infrastructural development.
Twenty projects were marked as candidates for partnership between the two countries over the course of the Algerian-Spanish economic forum held in October 2012. The event brought together around 50 Algerian economist and around 300 Spanish company chiefs and businessmen.