Fisheries Subsidies Negotiations Chair Introduces Draft Consolidated Text to WTO Members

At the 25 June meeting of the Negotiating Group on Rules concerning the fisheries subsidies negotiations, the chair, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, introduced to heads of WTO delegations a draft consolidated text of disciplines in anticipation of the text-based phase of the negotiations. He noted that the draft is intended as a possible starting point for those discussions and is without prejudice to any memberís views.

The document consolidates elements from members' proposals and from facilitators' working texts for draft disciplines on subsidies to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; subsidies to fishing overfished stocks; and subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity, along with some provisions on definitions and the scope of what the agreement could cover.

This was the first fisheries subsidies meeting since COVID-19 containment measures were imposed in mid-March. The chair provided a detailed explanation of the text, which he encouraged delegations to study in preparation for a first substantive discussion at a meeting scheduled for 21 July. The chair also indicated his availability to consult with interested members before that meeting.

The chair recalled the urgency of the fisheries subsidies negotiations. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, members had been working to conclude the fisheries subsidies negotiations at the 12th Ministerial Conference, which was to have been held from 8 to 11 June in Kazakhstan and has not yet been rescheduled.

At the WTO's 11th Ministerial Conference, ministers agreed, consistent with UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 14.6, to secure an agreement in 2020 on disciplines eliminating subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and prohibiting certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, with special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed countries.