A Norwegian importer has to pay giant fee for avoiding excise upon declaring goods from Western Sahara as Moroccan. The preferential treatment under the Moroccan-EFTA agreement cannot be granted to goods from Western Sahara, Norwegian government says. The EFTA free trade agreement with Morocco does not cover Western Sahara.
The Norwegian authorities have decided to issue a fee to the fish oil importer GC Rieber for wrongly declaring Western Sahara goods as Moroccan.
Through the EFTA Free Trade Agreement with Morocco, fish oil is free of excise. However, as the rest of the international community, Western Sahara is not considered by Norway as being a part of Morocco. Consequently, the Norwegian authorities have decided that the company was wrongly avoiding excise by labelling the fish oil of Western Sahara origin as "Moroccan".
The chairman used to be president of the Norwegian Confederation of Enterprise, but renounced this spring as the controversial imports from occupied Western Sahara, and the customs issue, emerged in media. Norwegian government urges firms from Norway to stay out of Western Sahara in order to not contribute to a legitimisation of the occupation.
The maximum limit for such a fine is 15 million Norwegian kroners – or 2 million euros. The erroneously labelled goods, however, has been many times as big.
The firm, GC Rieber, has appealed the decision from the Norwegian tax authorities.
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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