In a communication dated 19 March, the chair of the negotiations, Ambassador Santiago Wills (Colombia), assured members that it remains his intention  to prepare and distribute a first single basic consolidated text containing provisions on the three main subsidy prohibition pillars: illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; fishing of overfished stocks; and overcapacity and overfishing. It will also integrate relevant provisions on special and differential treatment for developing countries and least-developed countries (LDCs).

Previously, members were scheduled to hold a virtual fisheries subsidies meeting but it was called off due to restrictions arising from further COVID-19 developments. Director-General Roberto Azevêdo on 15 March had informed WTO members and the Secretariat that access to the organization's premises will be restricted and that all WTO meetings are suspended until the end of April.

The chair said that given the continued urgency of fisheries subsidies negotiations and the state of global fish stocks, it remains important to maintain momentum. He requested members to make comments or ask questions on the latest proposals from India and the LDC Group via e-mail and for the proponents to respond in the same manner in a process which will run from 26 March to 6 April. All inputs in this correspondence will be compiled and distributed to all delegations.

The chair said this exchange of views will be of assistance to him as he puts together the consolidated text. He reiterated his request to members for flexibility and engagement.

Based on the mandate fixed under the Ministerial Decision from the WTO's 11th Ministerial Conference, and the UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 14.6, negotiators are expected to secure an agreement in 2020 on disciplines eliminating subsidies for IUU fishing and prohibiting certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, with special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed countries.




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