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Fisheries Subsidies Negotiations Pick up Pace With More Proposals Tabled


Port Wings News Network:

WTO members in the Negotiating Group on Rules considered four new proposals at the cluster of fisheries subsidies meetings held on 10-15 June, the second to last round of negotiations before the August break. With less than six months left until the December target to agree on disciplines that will limit harmful fisheries subsidies, members aim to prepare simplified texts on key areas of the negotiations by next month to help move talks forward.

Members discussed a draft text, submitted jointly by Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru and Uruguay, Iceland, New Zealand, Canada, and the United States, to prohibit subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.

Members also discussed a revised draft text submitted by Australia to prohibit subsidies that negatively affect overfished stocks. Australia clarified that the text was submitted on a non-attributed basis to assist the Negotiating Group’s efforts to reach a possible landing zone on overfished stocks. As for subsidies that contribute to overfishing and the overcapacity of fleets, members considered a proposal from China to set spending limits on government support programs for fishing.

This is the third capping proposal on the table: the United States and Australia have likewise jointly proposed a capping approach, as has the Philippines. Members also took up India’s proposal seeking special and differential treatment in the fisheries subsidies disciplines being negotiated for developing country members and least-developed countries. Members likewise revisited discussions on earlier proposals.

Four facilitators, delegates appointed to be neutral parties on different topics, have been tasked to distil members’ submissions and positions into clean texts representing a minimum of options. For topics where negotiations are not as advanced, the facilitator will prepare summary papers of issues that need to be resolved. The documents being prepared are intended to help sharpen the focus of the negotiations after the August break. Members intending to submit more proposals were encouraged to do so as soon as possible.

The facilitators will be holding consultations with members ahead of the next cluster of fisheries subsidies meeting on 8-12 July.

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