NEGOTIATIONS ON FISHERIES SUBSIDIES
A heads of delegation meeting took place at the end of the week, where the chair of the negotiations, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, reported to members on the work undertaken since January. Following the week-long meetings, the chair reiterated the need for members to start reflecting on an acceptable outcome that could lead to a successful conclusion of the negotiations for the benefit of fish stocks worldwide. Ambassador Didier Chambovey of Switzerland, who was appointed by the chair to facilitate discussions on special and differential treatment, provided a summary to members, noting that, while differences remain, there exist common elements in members' proposals that could be a basis for building consensus.
Many members who took the floor at the week's concluding meeting noted the divergences in positions on the three issues taken up for the week, with several suggesting the use of a variety of negotiating formats to explore solutions aimed at bridging gaps. A number of members also welcomed the call earlier in the week by the next Director-General, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for the WTO to deliver new fisheries subsidies disciplines as soon as possible in 2021.
The next cluster of fisheries subsidies meetings will be held during the week of 15 March. Members may also meet before then for further consultations.
Based on the mandate from the WTO's 11th Ministerial Conference and the UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 14.6, negotiators have been given the task of securing agreement on disciplines to eliminate subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and to prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, with special and differential treatment being an integral part of the negotiations.