New Zealand firm Ballance Agri-Nutrients is importing phosphates from Western Sahara, contributing in the financing and legitimation of the illegal occupation from the territory. Here is correspondence between the NZ firm and the Norwegian Support Committee for WesternS ahara, 2008.
Mr. R. Hansen Chairman, Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara.
Phosphate Trade With Morocco
Ballance Agri-nutrients has forwarded your email to them to me, and asked me to reply on their behalf. The member companies of Fert Research have always acknowledged that they import phosphate rock from Morocco, and that some of that raw material is sourced from locations in the Western Sahara. On issues of international trade, member companies of Fert Research take guidance from the position of the New Zealand Government. As recently as June 2008, New Zealand's Minister of Trade, Phil Goff, publicly stated "the UN does not prohibit trade in resources from Western Sahara. Nor does such trade contravene a UN legal opinion [ Hans Correll, UN Under Secretary for Legal Affairs, 2002]". Mr Goff also made the point that "New Zealand does not unilaterally refuse to trade with countries with whom we have disagreements. [if it did] New Zealand would have to withdraw from trading with much of the world's population". The most appropriate authority for you to take up any concerns you have with the position taken by New Zealand on trade in Western Sahara resources is the Minister of Trade's office. Yours sincerely Hilton
Dr.Hilton Furness Technical Director FertResearch, P O Box 9577 Newmarket, Auckland. New Zealand [...] www.fertresearch.org.nz
From: Ronny Hansen Subject: Regarding Ballance's imports of phosphates from occupied Western Sahara Date: Tuesday, July 1, 2008, 9:49 PM
Dear Larry Bilodeau CEO of Ballance Agri-Nutrients
As you might been aware, Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco since 1975. Trading with or shipping phosphates from the occupied country is highly unethical and in violation of international law.
The Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara finds it regrettable that the Norwegian owned shipping company Gearbulk, is participating in this trade. The company's collaboration in this trade has been widely covered in the media, such as in this editorial in one of Norway's biggest newspapers this week-end: http://vest-sahara.no/index.php?parse_news=single&cat=49&art=990
On June 20th, 29 parliamentarians from Norway, UK and New Zealand sent a letter to Gearbulk, urging them to follow the advice of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and stop carrying out such transports. The letter from the parliamentarians is CC'd to Ballance. Please find a copy of the letter here: http://vest-sahara.no/files/dated/2008-06-24/letter_gearbulk_20.06.08.pdf
With today's phosphate prices, Morocco earns 40 times as much on the phosphate exports from occupied Western Sahara, than the refugees in Algeria get from humanitarian aid from the UNHCR/FAO/ECHO in total. The humanitarian situation in the camps is now worse than in Darfur, with one out of each 5 children suffering from malnutrition. We would like to draw your attention to the fact that this emergency humanitarian situation had not existed if Morocco had respected international law, by not occupying Western Sahara, or by respecting the more than 100 UN resolutions that calls for self-determination for the Sahrawi people. Collaborating with the Moroccan government in this trade offers legitimacy and financial support to the brutal and illegal occupation.
We would like to urge your company to immediately terminate the imports from Western Sahara, by finding alternative sources for your phosphate imports.
Mr. Bilodeau, we urge you also to learn more about the situation, by either visiting the refugee camps in Algeria or by visiting the Sahrawis living in the occupied territories. If you'd like to know how such a trip can be carried out, do not hesitate to contact us, as we have been to the region many times over the last 15 years.
Looking forward to hear from you,
Ronny Hansen Chairman, Norwegian Support Committee for Western Sahara www.vest-sahara.no / www.wsrw.org
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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