Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure to be with you today. At the WTO, we consider the FAO to be an essential partner in our work on fisheries as well as food security. Thank you for the invitation to speak to you.

As our Chair described, one of the biggest achievements of MC12 was the conclusion of the binding Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, the first WTO Agreement with environmental sustainability at its core. This accomplishment has greatly energized our Members and has given them great confidence in multilateralism. And it has encouraged them to do more.

But the adoption of the Agreement did not bring an end to the WTO's work on fisheries. To the contrary, now that the Agreement is concluded, WTO Members are engaged in three parallel processes to carry the work forward.

First is accepting the new Agreement. To deliver its benefits for the ocean, the Agreement must enter into force, which requires two-thirds of WTO Members to deposit their instruments of acceptance with the WTO. Our goal is to see entry into force by MC13, scheduled for the end of February in Abu Dhabi. We have received nine instruments from nine Members who have already completed their domestic processes and submitted their instruments of acceptance: Switzerland, Singapore, Seychelles, United States, the UAE, Iceland, Canada, the EU, and Nigeria — that brings us to almost one third of the required number. Many other Members are well advanced in their acceptance processes, and we expect more deposits shortly.

My plea to all of you is to say “yes” to this Agreement so that it can start delivering its benefits for ocean sustainability as soon as possible. Translating this agreement into meaningful action is squarely in your hands. It is obvious here that agreement is important for coastal countries who rely on a vibrant fishing industry, whether large or small. And it is important for landlocked countries as well because they need a sustainable source of fish protein. Our Secretariat can provide assistance regarding the process and the simple document required. I urge you to take rapid action, for the sake of the fish and those who depend on it for their livelihoods.

The second effort underway relates to how the WTO will assist developing and least developed Members in implementing the new disciplines. In this regard, the Agreement provides for the establishment of a dedicated funding mechanism, in partnership with the FAO, to support implementation of the Agreement by such Members, once they have formally ratified the Agreement. The Fund is up and running, and we have already started to receive donations, with Japan, Germany and Canada being the first, and several others in the pipeline. This action demonstrates to developing and least-developed Members that they will receive the assistance they need to implement the Agreement — they will not be left behind.

The final of the three strands of ongoing work on fisheries is continuing negotiations to resolve the outstanding issues that could not be agreed at MC12, which include disciplining subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, along with appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed Members. Delegations in Geneva are already actively working on this second wave. In fact, a fish negotiating week is taking place in Geneva as I speak, with lots of energy and determination to conclude the second wave of negotiations by MC13.




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