WTO to hold key trade ministers’ meeting on July 15 on fisheries subsidies
The head of the World Trade Organization (WTO) called a meeting of all trade ministers on July 15 to iron out differences over the granting of fisheries subsidies, sources said. The aim is to quickly conclude the negotiations and then a text is finalized so that an agreement on fisheries can be reached at the next WTO ministerial meeting in December in Geneva.
Eventful negotiations are taking place in Geneva on the subject. The objective of these negotiations is to discipline subsidies with the overall objective of having sustainable fishing and eliminating subsidies for IUU fishing (illegal, unreported and unregulated) and to prohibit subsidies contributing to the overcapacity and overfishing.
âThis will be an online meeting of trade ministers. WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has called a meeting of the trade negotiating committee on July 15 on the issue, âsources said.
As developed countries push for a ban on subsidies, India wants a fair and balanced outcome as the country provides support to its small and marginal fishermen who depend on the sector for their livelihoods.
Unlike rich countries which provide billions of dollars in subsidies to their fishermen, India’s subsidy only amounts to around Rs 770 crore. The government gives subsidies on things like fuel and boats.
Fishing communities in developed countries use highly mechanized fishing boats, called mother boats, in which they also have processing units.
As India’s subsidy is minimal and given to small and marginal fishermen, she asked for more time to implement the standards or disciplines, which would be finalized after full negotiations, on the ban on subsidies for fishing activities in India. exclusive economic zones (EEZs).
There are mainly three fishing zones: territorial waters (12 nautical miles from the shore), EEZ (exclusive economic zones – 200 nautical miles) and the high seas.
India wants fishing activities in territorial waters to be completely outside the scope of the agreement, while sufficient time should be given to implement the commitments of the agreement in EEZs.
For this, the country called for the need for appropriate and effective special and differential treatment (S&D) for developing countries and LDCs (least developed countries) in the negotiations.
Sources said WTO rules should not weigh on poor fishermen who make a living from the sector and fish in territorial waters.
âWhere is there evidence to suggest that the root cause of IUU fishing is fishing that takes place within 12 nautical miles of a coastal state? What we are looking for is an exemption up to 12 NM (nautical miles) for “U” and “U …”, according to a statement made by India at the open-ended meeting on the provisions TSD in the NGR fisheries subsidy negotiations held on May 31.
For fishing in EEZs (Exclusive Economic Zones) and RFMOs (Regional Fisheries Management Organizations – these are made up of representatives of nations that fish in a defined region or target a specific stock), India said the S&DT should be based on criteria that take into account development needs, capacity building and the time required to implement these disciplines.
“…. we need a 7 year S&D transition period for the U&U part of IUU fishing in the EEZ,” he added.
India has repeatedly said that WTO member countries that have provided huge subsidies for unsustainable fishing should first take responsibility for drastically reducing harmful support measures that lead to overfishing.
“We believe that the latest text takes us even further away from the conclusion of this discussion. Not having the capacity of developing countries that do not enjoy the benefits of large numbers of industrial ships to protect livelihoods small and artisanal fishermen, food security concerns and policy space for the development of fishing capacity, this certainly needs to be given due consideration, âIndia added.
At the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference, held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in December 2017, members agreed to engage constructively in negotiations on fisheries subsidies, with a view to adopting an agreement on fisheries subsidies. ‘here the next ministerial conference, the supreme decision-making body of the WTO.
The 12th Ministerial Conference will take place from November 30 to December 3, 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland.
The sector provides livelihoods to about 16 million Indian fishermen and fish farmers at the primary level and about double the number along the value chain.
The share of the fishing sector in total GDP (at current prices) increased from 0.40% in 1950-51 to 1.03% in 2017-18.
WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies were launched in 2001 in Doha, with a mandate to clarify and improve existing WTO disciplines on fisheries subsidies. This mandate was developed in 2005 at the Hong Kong meeting, notably with a call for the prohibition of certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing.
Also read: India urges WTO members to complete TRIPS waiver on COVID-19 vaccine talks by end of July