NEGOTIATIONS ON FISHERIES SUBSIDIES
“My aim in this Fish Week is to receive your initial reactions to the draft text that I circulated on 4 September,” the chair said at the heads of delegations meeting, reiterating members' shared target to complete substantive work by the meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee in December.
“My intention was to establish for you a structured foundation to adjust through your further inputs,” he said. “This draft text is not meant to be an approximation of the outcome of this process, but merely the beginning of our text-based work towards an outcome to be developed and agreed by all members.”
The chair said that in constructing the text, he drew on previous negotiating texts WT/MIN(22)/W/20 and WT/MIN(21)/W/5 as reference points, in line with the mandate from ministers at the 12th Ministerial Conference held in June 2022. The chair said he also included certain elements from members' proposals that were discussed in the earlier Fish Weeks held before the summer break.
The chair said a key feature of the draft discipline on subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing is a two-tiered scrutiny of fisheries subsidies, with the top tier involving stricter scrutiny of the largest providers of such subsidies. This structure was used in recognition of concerns voiced by numerous members to apply tighter disciplines to the largest subsidizers. The chair also included in the text draft provisions for special and differential treatment (SDT) for developing members and least-developed country (LDC) members.
The chair further noted that the draft text contains a prohibition on subsidies contingent on fishing outside the subsidizing member's jurisdiction, along with notification and transparency provisions for information on use of forced labour, on government-to-government fisheries access agreements, and on information on non-specific fuel subsidies. The draft text also contains a placeholder section for possible provisions not addressed in the draft text.
Members will meet in bilateral and small group configurations on Tuesday to Thursday, culminating with a closing meeting of heads of delegations on Friday. India and the United Kingdom presented their respective proposals at the opening meeting.
Deputy Director-General Angela Ellard said members' participation at the fifth “Fish Week” signals their continuing commitment to complete important work on fisheries subsidies.
“I encourage all members to continue your constructive engagement as we work toward finding common ground on the outstanding issues as quickly as possible, to meet our goal of having an agreed text in December,” DDG Ellard said.
She said that, in addition, steady progress has been made to enter into force the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, with 43 formal acceptances now received from members. She noted Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala's call for members to use the opportunity of the Senior Officials Meeting in October to deposit instruments. DDG Ellard also thanked members for their recent contributions and pledges to the WTO Fisheries Funding Mechanism aimed at assisting developing and LDC members in implementing the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies.