Fishing subsidies prohibition is one of the issues to be discussed at WTO ministerial meeting. (Photo: Conarpesa)
WTO countries submit draft on fishing subsidies
Thursday, December 07, 2017, 23:50 (GMT + 9)
The member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) yesterday decided to transmit a draft with several options on the prohibition of fishing subsidies to the ministers, who will have to finally decide from day 10 in Buenos Aires how to advance, reported today diplomatic sources.
The ministerial meeting will open next Sunday and end on Wednesday, December 13 with little chance of consensus on the many issues that will be presented, as was recently recognized in Geneva by the WTO director general, Roberto Azevedo.
However, although more advanced topics, such as agriculture and fisheries issues are open to the meeting, there is some hope in the WTO that at least a minimum agreement will be reached.
In the question about the prohibition of subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, the draft that was sent yesterday to the ministers from Geneva includes an indication of where the negotiations in this chapter in Buenos Aires can be dealt with.
The text includes five options with different levels of ambition on which ministers will have to decide.
These are the continuation of negotiations after the Buenos Aires meeting; prohibit subsidies related to illegal, undeclared and unregulated fishing through self-surveillance, and commit not to introducing new subsidies or not expanding the existing ones.
The draft also proposes an obligation to be transparent about subsidy programs; and a process to review the implementation of the measures that are adopted.
Finally, it includes a provision to make it clear that the decision made by the ministers will not have any legal implications for maritime disputes.
The option to continue the negotiations after the Buenos Aires meeting would be an agreement on minimum and the most probable one at the moment, according to the sources, since the countries disagreed in Geneva on whether a ministerial decision should or should not include a commitment to the prohibition of subsidies and whether or not it should be binding.
This opposition from some countries, including the US, the Philippines, South Korea, India, Malaysia, Cameroon, Oman and Paraguay, among others, occurs despite the principle that such a ban would be implemented under the national rules of each country and would not be subject to the WTO dispute resolution system, according to diplomatic sources.
Among the delegations that do want to include bans on fisheries subsidies in a possible ministerial decision include the European Union, New Zealand, the African Group, China (with the exception of overfishing of fish stocks), Norway, Argentina, Peru, Guatemala, Russia, Nigeria, Iceland and Panama.