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Members pledged to conclude negotiations for fisheries subsidies pact soon: WTO

·2-min read

New Delhi, Jul 16 (PTI) Member countries of the World Trade Organization have pledged to conclude the negotiations soon for the fisheries subsidies agreement, which would set new rules for the global fisheries industry, according to a statement.

WTO convened a meeting of all trade ministers of the member countries to discuss the agreement on July 15.

In a statement, WTO said the members edged closer on July 15 to an agreement which would set the new rules for the global fisheries industry and limit government subsidies contributing to unsustainable fishing and the depletion of global fish stocks.

'During an all-day meeting with 104 ministers and heads of delegation, WTO members pledged to conclude the negotiations soon and certainly before the WTO's Ministerial Conference in early December, and to empower their Geneva-based delegations to do so,' the statement, dated July 15, said.

In the virtual meeting, Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush had stated that member countries still need to cover significant ground to make the negotiations text for the agreement balanced, to meet the concerns of developing and Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said delegations needed to prepare for an intensive period of line by line negotiations.

'As we enter this new phase of text-based discussions to the responsibility to conclude these negotiations is truly in the hands of members. To get from here to an agreement, it will be your job to find the necessary trade-offs and flexibilities,' she said.

According to the statement, among the thorniest issues to resolve is on how to extend special and differential treatment to developing and least developed countries while preserving the overall objective of enhanced sustainability of the oceans.

On Special and Differential Treatment (S&DT), Goyal had said it is required to not only protect livelihoods of poor fishermen but also to address food security concerns, have necessary policy space for developing the fisheries sector and for a larger time period for any transition.

While developed nations are pushing for prohibitions on subsidies, India wants an equitable and balanced outcome as the country provides support to its small and marginal fishermen who depend on the sector for sustenance.

As per the World Trade Organisation, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that one-third of global fish stocks are overfished and most of the rest is fully exploited.

Each year, governments hand out around USD 35 billion in fisheries subsidies, two-third of which go to commercial fishers. World leaders in 2015 made a fisheries subsidies agreement by 2020 part of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The negotiations on fisheries subsidies disciplines have been ongoing for nearly 20 years.

The 12th Ministerial Conference will take place from November 30 to December 3, 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. PTI RR RAM

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