For the fourth year in a row, Western Sahara Resource Watch publishes a detailed overview of the companies involved in the purchase of phosphates from occupied Western Sahara.
The illegally exploited phosphate rock is the Moroccan government’s main source of income from the territory it holds contrary to international law. Representatives of the Saharawi people have been consistently outspoken against the trade, both in the UN, generally, and to specific companies.
The list we present in this report is complete for the calendar year of 2016, naming all shipments of phosphates from occupied Western Sahara. This report attributes the purchases of Morocco’s production in Western Sahara in 2016 to eight identified, and one unknown, importing companies in eight countries internationally.
The report details the total exported volume from Western Sahara in 2016 at 1.86 million tonnes, with an estimated value of $213,7 million, shipped in 37 bulk vessels. That constitutes a slight increase in exports since 2015, after infrastructure failures for the exporter caused unusually low numbers in 2015. The largest importer in 2016 was Agrium Inc. from Canada.
Several clients internationally have abstained from the controversial imports over the last year. A remarkable development of 2016 was the entry into the game of a subsidiary of OCP in India. OCP exported a volume of 344,000 tonnes phosphate rock to its own company in India, at a value of $ 39,6 million. This made OCP’s Indian joint-venture the second largest importer of OCP’s own exports from Western Sahara. OCP is part-owning the joint-venture together with the Indian government.
Of the nine identified importing companies in 2016, three are registered on international stock exchanges or are majority owned by listed enterprises. All have been subject to blacklisting by ethically concerned investors because of this trade.
Of the remaining six companies, two are farmer owned cooperatives in New Zealand, two are fully or partially owned by the Government of Venezuela, one is partially owned by the Government of India, and one is privately owned.
Similar P for Plunder reports were also published in 2014, 2015 and 2016. WSRW calls on all companies involved in the trade to immediately halt all purchases of Western Sahara phosphates until a solution to the conflict has been found and the Saharawi people have been assured the exercise of their fundamental right to self-determination. Investors are requested to engage or divest unless companies commit clearly to withdrawing from the trade.
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.