NEGOTIATIONS ON FISHERIES SUBSIDIES

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"What struck me is the very granular nature of the discussion. There seems to be a genuine search for answers," the NGR Chair, Ambassador Wayne McCook (Jamaica), said at the meeting. "It struck me that in the members' questions, there were offers to find solutions."

Members first tackled the proposal of the Latin American group composed of Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru and Uruguay. The proposal had been circulated on 29 May.

The proposal contains four sections: disciplines for subsidies for certain fishing activities, obligations for members to notify pertinent information to the WTO to enable surveillance of subsidies elimination, technical cooperation to help developing countries and least developed countries (LDCs) fulfil their commitments, and a provision for an annual review of the implementation progress.

Peru, on behalf of the group, said it recognized their proposal was only a starting point for discussions and that the group was open to discussing other members' comments and suggestions.

Peru urged members to make the best use of the remaining months to reach an agreement by the 11th Ministerial Conference in December that will help secure the sustainable use of the world's marine resources.

Indonesia, which circulated its own proposal on 6 June, also drew attention to the upcoming Ministerial Conference and said it hoped efforts would lead to a "meaningful outcome".

Indonesia's proposal contains three articles: definitions and the suggested coverage of the agreement; prohibitions against subsidies for IUU fishing and certain types of subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing; and special and differential treatment for developing countries and LDCs, particularly with regard to artisanal and small-scale fishing, fishing within a member's own exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and quotas in high seas, and technical assistance.

Members thanked Indonesia and the Latin American group for their submissions, with some lauding how the drafts incorporated elements from other members' proposals and previous discussions. Members debated issues such as determinations for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, overfishing and overcapacity, and how to treat fishing activity within a member's own EEZ. Members also discussed proposed provisions for special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries.

In total, there are currently four draft texts before members for a possible agreement. Previously, members had discussed the proposal from the European Union and the joint proposal from New Zealand, Iceland and Pakistan. In addition to the four draft texts, two concept papers containing general positions from the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) and the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group had also been taken up in earlier meetings.

"I would urge all delegations to intensify their discussions with the proponents," the Chair said.

After this meeting, members held a discussion dedicated to the following issues: transparency, a "standstill" commitment to refrain from introducing new subsidies, implementation, dispute settlement, institutional arrangements and definitions.

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