NEGOTIATIONS ON FISHERIES SUBSIDIES
“I think we had a tremendous week. We efficiently completed our first reading of the draft text. As a result, we have comprehensive tables of attributed suggestions for all the provisions in that document,” the chair said at the 13 October closing session of the week of meetings of the Negotiating Group on Rules in which members focused on providing specific suggestions for amendments to the draft text.
“At the same time, the tables show that substantial divergences still remain,” the chair said. “I hope that you will further develop your negotiating positions based on a deeper and better understanding of other members' positions. You need to weigh your strategic interests vis-à-vis others' strategic interests and through that, start to identify possible landing zones.”
“In a little over a week, our Senior Officials will be in Geneva for yet another milestone,” the chair said, referring to the high-level meeting scheduled for 23-24 October, which will gather political guidance in respect of the various streams of ongoing work at the WTO. “I hope you will seize the opportunity of your upcoming Senior Officials' presence here in Geneva to have critical engagements at that level also. In short, it is now the right time to enter into full negotiating mode,” he said.
Deputy Director-General Angela Ellard expressed appreciation for members' efforts during the week, noting that increased engagement will be vital as negotiations intensify: “Your meaningful involvement and interactive participation in this cluster are a testament to your commitment to the cause and clearly show that you have all perceived the switch in our discussions — from more general views on your positions to putting specific text on the table. I hope your work this week has inspired you for what will be a big push the next few months.”
DDG Ellard reported that several members have indicated they will be depositing at the Senior Officials Meeting their instruments of acceptance of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, which was adopted last year at the 12th Ministerial Conference. The Agreement will enter into force upon acceptance by two-thirds of the membership. To date, 43 instruments of acceptance have been received from members.
She furthermore noted that work in setting up the Fisheries Funding Mechanism is advancing well, with ongoing outreach to donors and potential beneficiaries to discuss the initial steps concerning the establishment of the Steering Committee and the creation of documents and procedures needed for the Fund to be able to start receiving applications for assistance.
At the 12th Ministerial Conference, held on 12-17 June 2022 in Geneva, WTO members forged an historic Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies. The Agreement 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. Under the Agreement, members further agreed to continue negotiations on outstanding issues, particularly on subsidies contributing to overcapacity and overfishing, which is the focus of the current draft text before members during the ongoing second wave of negotiations.