“The atmosphere and the tone and the expression by several of you that in spite of the difficulties, we still have hope, I found that very constructive,” DG Okonjo-Iweala said at the 8 December closing session of the week of meetings on fisheries negotiations.

“What has also been interesting to me are suggestions on bridging proposals that could possibly bring some of those positions closer. That is hopeful and helpful,” she said. “Let's keep going. We're going to deliver this.”

The chair also lauded members for their discussions: “I concur with Dr Ngozi when she said there has really been a constructive tone through and through in your engagement here today and that is encouraging.”

“I recognize that we are not meeting the target set for us by the senior officials to deliver a fully-fledged agreement to the TNC [Trade Negotiations Committee] and General Council next week but there still is a bit of time left,” the chair said. “I sense a strong, continued ambition amongst all of you to make this work. That means we have to go into overtime, we have to dig deep, have the energy and stamina to make good use of the time that remains before the end of the year.”

The chair added: “I don't think we will have Fish Weeks in the coming year but we may have a Fish Month.”

In October, senior officials meeting in Geneva broadly affirmed the aim of concluding fisheries subsidies negotiations at MC13 to be held in late February 2024, with December 2023 as a target for a final negotiating text.

The chair said he will reflect on what to extract from members' discussions and will report on next steps at the TNC meeting on Tuesday.

Adopted by consensus at the WTO's 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), held in Geneva on 12-17 June 2022, the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies prohibits support for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, bans support for fishing overfished stocks and ends subsidies for fishing on the unregulated high seas. In addition, the Agreement recognizes the needs of developing and least-developed countries and establishes a fund to provide technical assistance and capacity building to help them implement the obligations.

Members also agreed at MC12 to continue negotiations on outstanding issues, with a view to making recommendations by MC13, to be held in February 2024 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for additional provisions that would further enhance the disciplines of the Agreement.

The full text of the Agreement can be accessed here. The list of members that have deposited their instruments of acceptance is available here. Information for members on how to accept the Protocol of Amendment is available here.




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