Supporting the Implementation of New WTO Rules on Fisheries Subsidies

The role of technical assistance and capacity building

How could technical assistance and capacity building (TACB) help developing countries in implementing new WTO rules on fisheries subsidies? This brief reviews possible implementation steps, examines the nature of current fisheries-related TACB, and suggests ways in which TACB could better support compliance with, and the effectiveness of, new fisheries subsidies disciplines.

November 27, 2020
  • While fisheries-related technical assistance amounted to at least USD 3.3 billion between 2009 and 2018, there is overall no clear evidence of donor support for subsidy assessment and reform.

  • For technical assistance to effectively support the implementation of new WTO rules on fisheries subsidies, some rebalancing and refocusing of existing assistance may be required.

  • Providers of fisheries-related technical assistance should ensure their programs support food security, livelihoods, and environmental sustainability in a coherent way.

Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are currently negotiating new rules on fisheries subsidies. If agreed, these rules will provide a set of new internationally binding disciplines on fisheries subsidies, which will have to be implemented and reflected in domestic laws, regulations, and administrative procedures. Many developing and least-developed countries (LDCs), who often face capacity constraints, may benefit from dedicated technical assistance and capacity building (TACB) to support particular aspects of this implementation process.

Discussions in this area are, however, at an early stage, not least because WTO negotiators felt the need to concentrate first on the main disciplines before addressing implementation concerns and possible support through TACB. As a contribution to this discussion, this policy brief reviews possible implementation steps that WTO members might undertake to implement a future WTO instrument on fisheries subsidies. It then assesses the extent to which support for these possible implementation steps has been provided by fisheries-related official development assistance provided by bilateral, regional, and multilateral donors over the last decade or so. Based on this analysis, it suggests possible recommendations and avenues to improve the future targeting and effectiveness of such assistance.

Brief details

Sustainable Development Goals
IISD Global Subsidies Initiative
Focus area
Act Together
IISD, 2020