In April this year, Swedish Trade Council opened an office in Casablanca, Morocco. As preparation of the opening of the office, the Council had on 6th March made a folder with information on the business opportunities in Morocco. Download folder here.
The only map in the folder, outlined the activities of ANAFAP, the umbrella organisation for fishmeal and fish oil producers in Morocco - and Western Sahara. But the map made no distinction of the two countries, and did not outline the internationally recognised border between Morocco and Western Sahara. See the map below.
"I get upset by the Trade Council's folder, in which one really urges Swedish businesses to participate in the plundering of an occupied country. The government must now act so that a governmental authority like the Trade Council do not work against the clear majority in the Swedish parliament that consider Western Sahara as occupied", said parliamentarian Mr. Hans Linde, to the Swedish magazine Västsahara.
"Oops, we we are going to change that map", said Helena Olsson, Director Corporate Communications at the Swedish Trade Council when she was made aware of the issue by Västsahara.
She underlined that they cooperate closely with the Swedish embassy in Rabat, and follow the recommendations by the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"The [Swedish] Ministry of Foreign Affairs will immediately contact the Trade Council and make them aware of the position of the Swedish government on the status on Western Sahara, and that this map is not in line with this position", said Mrs. Ulla Eriksson-Moberg at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the same publication.
Then, all information relating to fisheries was simply removed from the folder. That included pages 17, 18 and 19, including the information on "Fishmeal and fish oil producers in Morocco", as well as the only map of Morocco in the entire folder.
The new version of the folder was edited by the local staff at the Trade Council's Casablanca office on the 28th of November 2008. Download the new version here. It is also avaliable through this link.
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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