6 April 2016
FANZ awaits UN review on Western Sahara
The Fertiliser Association of New Zealand’s (FANZ) two member companies, Ballance Agri-Nutrients Limited and Ravensdown Limited, import a portion of the phosphate rock used in New Zealand for the manufacture of fertilisers from OCP Group, a Moroccan state-owned company, which sources some of its phosphate rock from Western Sahara.
FANZ is aware of the territorial dispute in the non-self-governing territory of Western Sahara and maintains an on-going process of due diligence regarding political developments in the region and their implications for fertiliser supply.
FANZ is confident that domestic and international law currently permits the import of phosphate rock into New Zealand, pursuant to arrangements with OCP, sourced from the territory of Western Sahara.
In addition to the territorial dispute, FANZ is also aware of current actions before the European Union judicial system calling into question the legality and application of European trade agreements with Morocco involving products sourced from the territory of Western Sahara. These actions are ongoing and decisions are not expected to be handed down for some time. We continue to actively monitor any developments in this area. At present, we do not consider there is any reason to alter our position: that we are not acting illegally, under either domestic or international law, by sourcing rock phosphate from the territory of Western Sahara, pursuant to arrangements with OCP.
OCP continues to affirm that it is meeting its obligations under international law, and in particular, the relevant Resolutions of the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly, in that it is not acting in disregard of the interests and wishes of the local population of Western Sahara. OCP is a significant employer of local inhabitants of the region and has demonstrated its support for these people through its continued investment in the local community.
FANZ recognises that Western Sahara is subject to a long-running territorial dispute involving a number of complex ethical and legal questions. As a principle, FANZ continues to believe that the local inhabitants of Western Sahara should benefit from the resources of their territory, and that any activities involving these resources should be undertaken in their best interests and for their benefit.
FANZ and its member companies are aware that the United Nations Secretary General has appointed a special envoy to seek solutions in Western Sahara. We are highly supportive of this initiative, as it is difficult for our Association and its member companies in New Zealand to assess such ethical and legal complexities alone. We consider that the United Nations is the most appropriate organisation to make judgements on situations like this.
For these reasons we have resolved to take no pre-emptive action regarding importing phosphate rock pursuant to arrangements with OCP and, at this stage, will continue this course of action. Phosphorus fertilisers are vital to New Zealand’s agricultural sector and represent an important source of revenue for Western Sahara. Neither of these benefits should be discarded without thorough consideration of all relevant matters by appropriate authorities.
We continue to maintain a close liaison with New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade regarding these matters and remain vigilant of any developments involving the United Nations in this space.
The Fertiliser Association of New Zealand
The Fertiliser Association of New Zealand (FANZ) is a trade association representing the New Zealand manufacturers of superphosphate and nitrogen fertilisers. FANZ has two member companies – Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd and Ravensdown Limited. Both of these companies are farmer owned co-operatives with some 45,000 farmer shareholders between them. FANZ member companies supply over 98 per cent of all fertiliser used in New Zealand. This represents a $2 billion share of the market.
To promote good management practices, FANZ and its member companies develop training programmes, codes of practice and industry information fact sheets. They fund research, partner with government on research and development projects and work closely with other organisations in the agricultural sector on industry-good issues. Industry research and development spending exceeds $16 million per annum. This includes funding for the OVERSEER® nutrient management tool.
FANZ supports and encourages an environmentally responsible science-based approach to nutrient management and its regulation. FANZ member companies provide products that are critical to New Zealand farming systems along with research that supports both environmentally sustainable farming practices and government’s export growth agenda. FANZ is influential across all agricultural sectors, including dairy, sheep, beef, arable and horticulture.
More information about FANZ can be found on the website at www.fertiliser.org.nz
Dr Philip Mladenov
Fertiliser Association of New Zealand