The US-Moroccan 2004 Free Trade Agreement does not include produce from occupied Western Sahara. This has been made clear by the former US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick.
However, there are infringements in practice. Read more on tomatoes originating in occupied Western Sahara reaching US shores in May 2009.
In 2005, the United States Trade and Development Agency stated that it "has not and would not support any activities in Western Sahara”. On 4 June 2009, Western Sahara Resource Watch and the US based Defense Forum Foundation sent a letter to the agency asking how this policy will be followed, considering the grants which are now being given to infrastructure projects for Morocccan fisheries. WSRW points to the fact that most of the Moroccan fisheries are taking place in Western Sahara.
Kosmos Energy is the only company in the world who holds a licence for oil exploration offshore occupied Western Sahara. A legal analysis by the UN in 2002 stated that proceeding with exploration activities in Western Sahara would be in violation of international law.
"If further exploration and exploitation activities were to proceed in disregard of the interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara, they would be in violation of the principles of international law applicable to mineral resource activities in Non-Self-Governing Territories", the opinion concludes.
Kosmos Energy was first engaged in Western Sahara on 29th of October 2004, when they purchased 30% of the rights in the so-called Boujdour block, where US oil company Kerr-McGee was operator. After Kerr-McGee left the area, Kosmos on 3rd of May 2006 signed an extensive agreement with the Moroccan state oil company ONHYM. The same month, they opened an office in Morocco, without having any other engagement in the region than the Boujour agreement.
Today, they hold a 75% interest in the Boujdour block, while ONHYM holds the remainder 25%.
US-Canadian fertiliser producer PCS has historically been the most important customer of phosphates from the Moroccan government's illegal phosphate production in occupied Western Sahara. The Sahrawi people of Western Sahara do not profit from the trade. WSRW has reported repeatedly on the company’s illegal imports, e.g. in January 2009, December 2008, November 2008, September 2008 and January 2008.
In October 2008, WSRW’s Louisiana section sent a letter to PCS, demanding that they terminate their imports from Western Sahara.
Florida fertilizer company Mosaic Co. has received another vessel of phosphates from occupied Western Sahara, in violation of international law. Western Sahara Resource Watch section Florida has urged the company to stop its imports. Read the letter here.
In a response to that letter, Mosaic Co. replied they would make a decision on continued imports from the occupied territories in 2009.
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.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the five different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents.