Draft on fisheries subsidies goes to WTO Ministerial

Draft on fisheries subsidies goes to WTO Ministerial

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Geneva (Kanaga Raja) – Members of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) on 6 December agreed to forward a draft decision on fisheries subsidies to trade ministers to consider at the WTO’s eleventh ministerial conference (MC11) in Buenos Aires beginning on 10 December.According to trade officials, the latest draft includes five options with varying levels of ambition with regards to prohibitions to subsidies contributing to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
As for prohibitions on subsidies harming overfished stocks, members were only able to agree to include a place-holder in the draft as they ran out of time to produce clear options for ministers to choose from on this issue.
China said that it was prepared only to consider a commitment on IUU fishing.
According to trade officials, in addition to the draft decision, ministers will also be receiving further proposals directly from members who wish to make further changes to the document, such as text to elaborate on a commitment on overfished stocks.
The Chair of the Negotiating Group on Rules, Ambassador Wayne McCook of Jamaica, said: “What we have tried to do is to isolate and reflect as clearly as possible the different choices ministers may wish to consider.”
The text (WT/MIN(17)/W/4) of the draft ministerial decision on fisheries subsidies that the Negotiating Group on Rules, at its meeting on 6 December, agreed to forward to the ministerial conference is as follows:
“[The Ministerial Conference,
Having regard to paragraph 1 of Article IX of the Marrakesh Agreement establishing the World Trade Organization; and
[Recalling the mandate contained in the 2001 Doha Declaration and the 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration; and]
Acknowledging the importance of the fisheries sector, and its contribution to the development priorities, poverty reduction, livelihood [of their fishing communities, including small-scale [and]artisanal fishers,] and food security of all Members, in particular developing countries and least-developed countries; and
[Recognizing] [Recalling] [target 14.6 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda][the mandate]to prohibit, by 2020, certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies negotiation; and
[Desiring to further the objectives of the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (ASCM).]
Decides as follows:
1. Building on the progress made since the 10th Ministerial Conference as reflected in documents TN/RL/W/274/ Rev.2, RD/TN/RL/29/Rev.3, Members agree to continue to engage constructively in the fisheries subsidies negotiations, [with a view to]adopting, by the Ministerial Conference in 2019, an agreement on comprehensive and effective disciplines that prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, and eliminate subsidies that contribute to IUU-fishing recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed Members should be an integral part of these negotiations.
2.1
[Alternative 1: In the interim, until a negotiated Agreement is adopted, Members agree not to grant or maintain subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.
Alternative 2: Pending agreement on multilateral disciplines, each Member shall endeavour to eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities set out in paragraph 3 of the IPOA-IUU [2001].
Alternative 3: Pending agreement on multilateral disciplines, each Member agrees to eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities set out in paragraph 3 of the IPOA-IUU [2001] as implemented in its national laws, regulations and administrative procedures.
Alternative 4: Pending agreement on multilateral disciplines, each Member agrees to eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities set out in paragraph 3 of the IPOA-IUU [2001] as implemented in its national laws, regulations and administrative procedures, in waters beyond its [EEZ] [jurisdiction].
Alternative 5: Pending agreement on multilateral disciplines, each Member agrees to eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities set out in paragraph 3 of the IPOA-IUU [2001] as implemented in its national laws, regulations and administrative procedures. If a Member has capacity constraints that prevent it from immediately implementing this commitment in respect of unreported and unregulated fishing [within its EEZ,][in waters under its jurisdiction]such a Member would [notify][inform]the SCM Committee of these constraints, and shall not be required to implement this commitment until the necessary capacity has been acquired. In this regard, technical assistance and capacity building support should be provided. [Any such notification shall cease to have effect no later than 31 December 2020.]]
2.2 [Overfished stocks]
3. [Each Member agrees to make its best efforts to refrain from introducing new, or extending or enhancing existing, subsidies that contribute to overfishing or overcapacity. This commitment shall not [apply to][affect the rights or obligations of][developing and LDC]Members [.] [under international law]to exploit, conserve and manage fisheries resources [and expand their fishing capacities]in a sustainable manner.]
4. Members re-commit to the implementation of existing notification obligations under Article 25.3 of the ASCM thus strengthening transparency with respect to fisheries subsidies.
[Members further commit to work towards additional transparency in respect of fisheries subsidies [taking into consideration the capacity constraints of developing countries including LDCs].]
5. Within a year of the adoption of this Decision, a subsidizing Member shall notify the Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures how it has implemented paragraphs [2,] [3] and [4] of this Decision.
6. The Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures shall hold a dedicated review in mid-2019 of Members’ notifications submitted under paragraph 5 and report to the General Council which shall report thereon to the 12th Ministerial Conference in 2019.
7. Nothing in this Decision shall be interpreted as having any legal implications regarding territoriality, sovereignty or maritime jurisdiction.
8. [Nothing [in paragraphs [2]-[3][4][7]] in this Decision shall prejudge the [final]positions of Members regarding the fisheries subsidies negotiations [or the final outcome of the negotiations].]
[9. We also agree that this Decision is not a covered agreement subject to the Dispute Settlement Understanding and it shall not be used to interpret Members’ rights and obligations under the WTO Agreement.]]” – Third World Network
(Published in SUNS #8592 dated 8 December)

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