New Zealand is a massive importer of Western Saharan phosphate rock.
The former government, who left office in November 2008, issued two statements regarding these illegal imports right before the change of office. Former Minister of Trade Phil Goff declared in both statements that the responsibility is Morocco’s and that New Zealand companies breach no laws in importing from Western Sahara.
On more than one occasion, Ballance Agri-Nutrients bought phosphate rock originating from occupied Western Sahara. The company believes that Western Sahara is part of Morocco, thereby bluntly ignoring the fact that no state in the world, including New Zealand, recognizes the Moroccan annexation of Western Sahara.
The other importing firm is Ravensdown.
In April 2007, WSRW discovered that Sealord, New Zealand’s biggest fishing company, was marketing fish from occupied Western Sahara. Following the revelations in the New Zealand press, the Maori Party reacted by stating “we encourage Maori shareholders to raise the issue with Sealord’s directors and encourage them to review their investment decision accordingly”. Sealord is half Maori owned.
Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
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