“Today marks a new phase and provides an opportunity to define our future strategy and the way we will progress with operationalization of the Fund. We need to make sure that this happens as fast as possible,” DDG Ellard said, noting that 56 WTO members have formally accepted the Agreement, which is over half of what is needed for the Agreement to come into effect (two-thirds of the WTO membership).

“I want to highlight your genuine enthusiasm for this new phase of work, especially as we gear up for MC13,” DDG Ellard added. “Setting up the Fund also is relevant to the ongoing second wave of negotiations, which we hope that Members will conclude at MC13 with the creation of additional disciplines, on fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing. In the negotiating room, many developing Members are speaking to the importance of technical assistance and capacity building that would be needed to implement the new disciplines,” she noted. 

The Steering Committee, the Fund's governing body, is composed of representatives from the WTO Secretariat, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the World Bank Group, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development; and representatives of donors and beneficiaries. The Steering Committee is charged with evaluating applications for assistance and other issues related to the Fund's operation with the support of the Fund Secretariat. Developing members and LDCs which have ratified the Agreement are eligible to receive assistance once the Agreement enters into force.

At the meeting, preliminary discussions were held on four areas: governance procedures, guidelines for projects and project preparation grants, monitoring and evaluation plans, and transparency and engagement strategies. Working groups were established for further work on these areas.

Sixteen donors have contributed to the Fund more than CHF 8 million collectively to date and have committed a further CHF 4 million. The members that have donated or pledged to the Fund thus far are Australia, Canada, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Japan, Liechtenstein, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Because the new Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies will involve adjustments and enhancements to WTO members' legislative and administrative frameworks, their transparency and notification obligations, and their fisheries management policies and practices, Article 7 of the Agreement provides for the creation of a voluntary funding mechanism to provide targeted technical assistance and capacity building to help developing and least developed country members with implementation.

More information on the fund, which became operational to accept donations on 8 November 2022, is available here.




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