A Draft World Trade Organization Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies: What's on the table?
Members of the WTO hope to clinch a long-awaited deal on fisheries subsidies at the organization's Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12), scheduled to take place from June 12 to 15, 2022.
The draft agreement circulated on November 24, 2022, reflects remarkable convergence among members in the three key substantive areas of proposed rules: (1) subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing; (2) subsidies to the fishing of overfished stocks; and (3) subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity.
To reach an agreement on fisheries subsidies at MC12, WTO members have a few weeks to address a handful of key outstanding questions—which are highlighted in this update.
Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) hope to conclude a new multilateral agreement on fisheries subsidies at the organization’s Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12), which will take place from June 12 to 15, 2022, in Geneva, Switzerland. The objective of the treaty is to tackle the harmful fisheries subsidies that undermine the sustainable exploitation of marine resources in fisheries around the world, as well as the livelihoods, food security, and development prospects of populations who depend on healthy fish stocks. A WTO deal on this issue could constitute a major step in helping steer global fisheries in a more sustainable direction, but WTO members now need to turn their increasing convergence on the shape of new rules into consensus.
With only a few weeks left before MC12, this update provides an overview of the draft agreement circulated by the Chair of WTO talks on fisheries subsidies, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, on November 24, 2021. It describes the main rules and legal provisions that are proposed, explains how the draft agreement attempts to find balance among various priorities and considerations, and highlights the few outstanding key questions that WTO members will need to address in the final phase of the negotiations. It has been designed to provide all interested stakeholders with a short, clear summary of the state of play in WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations and to help negotiators seek focused input from capitals to support their engagement in the final phase of the negotiating process.
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