Eventful talks will start from September 1 at the WTO to conclude negotiations on the Fisheries Subsidies Pact
Eventful talks will begin from September 1 among members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva to iron out differences over a proposed agreement on fisheries subsidies, an official said. The aim is to quickly conclude the negotiations so that member countries can finalize the text of the pact before the 12th ministerial conference, which will be held in Geneva from November 30, the official added.
The talks would take place in two stages: September 1 to 12, and then September 13 to October 8.
During the first stage, Ambassador Santiago Wills, Chairman of the Rules Negotiating Group, will hold consultations in various formats. Within this framework, member countries can meet with the president or hold discussions among themselves on key issues.
From September 13 to October 8, intensive text-based negotiations will take place on substantive issues on which member countries’ views diverge.
The main objective of the second step is to minimize the differences and improve the negotiating text by making it more convergent.
“The aim is to finalize a clean and fully agreed text, before the 12th ministerial conference,” the official said.
The agreement aims to discipline subsidies with the overall objective of having sustainable fishing, eliminating subsidies for IUU fishing (illegal, unreported and unregulated) and prohibiting subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing.
At the WTO Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries Subsidies on July 15, Trade and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal said member countries still need to cover important ground for the negotiating text of the l he agreement is balanced in order to respond to the concerns of developing and least developed countries (LDCs).
India has repeatedly stressed that it is keen to finalize an agreement on fisheries subsidies within the WTO, as irrational benefits and overfishing by many countries are hurting domestic fishermen and their livelihoods.
Goyal had stressed that it was essential for the large subsidy providers to take greater responsibility for reducing their subsidies and their fishing capacities, in accordance with the principles of “polluter pays” and “common but differentiated responsibilities”.
According to him, the proposed agreement must meet current and future needs because the per capita fishing subsidy given by most developing countries is tiny compared to advanced fishing countries.
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 grants subsidies on items like fuel and boats.
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.
WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies were launched in 2001 in Doha, with a mandate to clarify and improve existing WTO disciplines on fisheries subsidies.
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