WTO members are resuming negotiations on fisheries subsidies after the August break under an intensified programme of meetings beginning on 1 September. The chair of the negotiations, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, said the objective, as affirmed by ministers at the July 15, 2021 virtual meeting, will be to produce a clean text of fisheries subsidy rules ahead of the 12th Ministerial Conference.
According to the chair’s communication to members, the first stage of meetings will start on September 1, 2021, and will involve consultations with members followed by text-based negotiations in various formats such as bilateral discussions, small groups, and meetings of the entire membership on key issues where views remain divergent. The aim at this phase is to collectively improve the existing draft text so that the resulting draft is as clean and clear as possible.
For the second stage, on October 11-29, 2021, the chair is seeking daily meetings with all members to comb through the draft text clause-by-clause and produce a fully agreed clean text. This is in line with the call made by ministers in their July virtual meeting to conclude the negotiations soon and before MC12.
Following the July 15, 2021 meeting with ministers, Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Ambassador Wills said they received valuable inputs including on the next steps that would be required to successfully conclude the 20-year negotiations.
Under the mandate from the WTO’s 11th Ministerial Conference held in Buenos Aires in 2017 and the UN Sustainable Development Goal Target 14.6, negotiators have been given the task of securing agreement on disciplines to eliminate subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and to prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, with special and differential treatment being an integral part of the negotiations.