NEGOTIATIONS ON FISHERIES SUBSIDIES

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“The world is watching what we do here and we simply cannot afford to fail both the health of the oceans and the credibility of this organization,” the chair said, adding that he will convene a meeting of heads of WTO delegations soon to seek their political guidance on work for the remaining weeks in the year.

UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target 14.6 sets a deadline of 2020 for eliminating subsidies to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and for prohibiting certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, with special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed countries.

In the 2017 Ministerial Decision on Fisheries Subsidies, members agreed to continue to engage constructively in fisheries subsidies negotiations, with a view to adopting an agreement by the next Ministerial Conference in 2019. In taking the subsequent decision to hold that Ministerial Conference in June 2020, members reaffirmed their commitment to complete the fisheries subsidies negotiations by the end of 2019.

Prior to the chair's election, members had the opportunity on 4-8 November to exchange views and information on fisheries subsidies issues in bilateral meetings, other meetings organized by members, and consultations led by six facilitators who are WTO delegates.

Members behind five new submissions introduced their proposals. These are an initial text from Argentina, Australia, United States and Uruguay to incorporate a capping approach for certain fisheries subsidies; a draft text from the European Union, Japan, Korea and Chinese Taipei on prohibiting subsidies contributing to overcapacity and overfishing; draft texts from Australia on institutional arrangements for a committee and a possible consultations mechanism to be used before dispute settlement; and a draft text from the Philippine regarding subsidies to fishing in disputed waters.

The next cluster of fisheries subsidies meetings will be held in the week of 2 December.

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