WTO members that are among the first 10 to formally accept the Fisheries Subsidies Agreement called on other members to do the same to ensure entry into force of the historic agreement for ocean sustainability. Ambassadors and high-level representatives of Canada, the European Union, Iceland, Nigeria, Singapore, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and the United States highlighted the Agreement’s importance to a variety of economies and shared experiences with domestic acceptance processes at the 21 June 21, 2023 event “WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies — Race to Entry into Force.
“The Agreement is a tangible leap forward in the race to preserve our ocean and its precious living resources. However, the Agreement’s benefits will take hold only when WTO members implement its provisions,” Deputy Director-General Angela Ellard said in her opening remarks, noting that formal acceptances from two-thirds of all 164 WTO members need to be secured for the Agreement to enter into force.
“We are aiming to secure this agreement’s entry into force by the 13th Ministerial Conference next February in Abu Dhabi. This urgency is for the sake of ocean sustainability, which is an important matter for all WTO members. Indeed, all of our members depend on a sustainable source of fish and on a healthy ocean ecosystem, whether they boast a long coast or whether they are landlocked,” DDG Ellard said. “The good news is that we have received 10 instruments of acceptance and therefore are about one-third of the way there.”
Belize and Seychelles, in addition to the eight members represented on the event’s panel, are also among those that submitted the first 10 instruments of formal acceptance, but were unable to attend the event.
The panellists at the event were: Ambassador Adamu Mohammed Abdulhamid of Nigeria; Ambassador Didier Chambovey of Switzerland; Ambassador Einar Gunnarsson of Iceland, who is also the chair of the fisheries subsidies negotiations; Ambassador Maria Pagan of the United States; Ambassador Hung Seng Tan of Singapore; Ambassador Nadia Theodore of Canada; Mr Abdelsalam Mohamed A. Al Ali, Director of the Office of the United Arab Emirates to the WTO; and Mr Hiddo Houben, Deputy Head of the Permanent Mission of the European Union.
Speakers at the event explained why it was urgent to formally accept the Agreement, citing the need to prevent the depletion of ocean resources, secure food and livelihoods for people, and uphold multilateralism.
Speakers also shared their experiences completing domestic processes to achieve the formal acceptance of the Agreement. Common enabling factors identified by the speakers as contributing to a speedy domestic process included involving capital-based authorities early on in the negotiations to build a common understanding of the Agreement, coordinating across various ministries, and engaging non-governmental stakeholders to lend additional support for the Agreement.
The World Trade Organization (WTO) deals with the global rules of trade between nations. Its main function is to ensure that trade flows as smoothly, predictably and freely as possible.