Info Service on WTO and Trade Issues (Sept17/07)
15 September 2017
Third World Network
South nations insist on reference to DWP in fisheries accord at MC11
Published in SUNS #8531 dated 14 September 2017
Geneva, 13 Sep (D. Ravi Kanth) - A large majority of developing and
poorest countries have insisted that any outcome/agreement for prohibiting
certain categories of fisheries subsidies must refer explicitly in
the preamble to the mandate provided in the Doha Work Program (DWP)
of 2001, trade negotiators told SUNS.
But the industrialized countries along with their allies - Argentina,
Peru, Colombia, and Uruguay - seem determined to erase "Doha"
from the proposed fisheries subsidies agreement as well as the Buenos
Aires ministerial declaration, according to negotiators who asked
not to be quoted.
During the two days of intense discussions that ended on 12 September
on the matrix of proposals issued by Ambassador Wayne McCook of Jamaica,
the Chair for Doha fisheries negotiations, members remained sharply
divided on the issues such as preamble, definitions on the interpretation
of "illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (IUU)",
what would constitute fishing/fishing activity, fishing vessel, operator,
overfished stocks, and subsistence/artisanal/small-scale fishing among
The matrix, which has compiled all the proposals from members, was
issued on 28 July to facilitate the discussions.
The Chair had emphasized in his introduction to the matrix that "it
is not a chair text" and that "it is a compilation, topic
by topic, of the seven textual proposals now on the table."
The seven textual proposals in the matrix were submitted by: New Zealand,
Iceland, and Pakistan; the European Union; Indonesia; the ACP (Africa,
Caribbean, and Pacific) group; Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama,
Peru, and Uruguay; Norway; and the LDC (least-developed countries)
On the proposed language in the preamble, the proposals tabled by
the European Union and the six South American countries - Argentina,
Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru and Uruguay - did not even mention
the Doha work program of 2001.
Instead, the two proposals chose to acknowledge the outcome to Target
14.6 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
The EU, for example, stated in the preamble:
"Acknowledging the commitments established under the 2030 Agenda
for Sustainable Development and notably UN Sustainable Development
Goal 14 on the conservation and sustainable use of oceans, seas and
marine resources for sustainable development,
"Acknowledging UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 target 6 which
sets out that the signatories of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
should, by 2020 prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which
contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that
contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain
from introducing new such subsidies,
"Acknowledging UN Sustainable Development Goal 14 target 4 which
sets out that the signatories of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
should, by 2020 effectively regulate harvesting and end overfishing,
illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and destructive fishing
practices and implement science-based management plans, in order to
restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels
that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their
"Recognizing that appropriate and effective special and differential
treatment for developing counties should be an integral part of the
World Trade Organization's fisheries subsidies negotiation,
"Recognizing that overcapacity contribution to overfishing constitutes
a serious threat to the conservation and sustainable exploitation
of living marine resources,
"Recognizing that the share of overfished stocks increased from
10% in 1974 to over 31% in 2013 and that this share is to be decreased,"
The six South American countries also made no mention of Doha in their
proposed preamble to the agreement.
They proposed: "Considering a growing consensus within the international
community has been emerging on the need to act to prevent the harmful
impacts of certain fisheries subsidies on sustainability of marine
resources. That understanding was reflected in Paragraph 173 of the
outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development,
"The future we want" and in the recent multilateral mandate
of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations,
in which Heads of State and Government agreed on the Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs) 14.6;
"Recognizing the urgent need to eliminate illegal, unreported
and unregulated fishing and prohibit certain forms of subsidies that
contribute to overfishing and overcapacity;
"Acknowledging that appropriate and effective special and differential
treatment for developing and least- developed country Members should
be an integral part of the World Trade Organization fisheries subsidies
"Recalling, that the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)
has developed relevant international plans of actions to address Illegal,
Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing, and overcapacity, as well
as technical guidelines for responsible fisheries;
"Fulfilling the fisheries subsidies' goals will be the most relevant
WTO contribution to trade and environment, representing at the same
time an important contribution to food security and development;
"agree to establish effective disciplines on fisheries subsidies
In sharp opposition, the ACP (Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific ) group
said in their text:
"Recalling the mandate contained in the 2001 Doha Declaration,
where Ministers agreed to clarify and improve WTO rules that apply
to fisheries subsidies,
"Acknowledging the importance of the sector to development priorities,
poverty reduction, livelihood, sustainable development of fisheries
capacity throughout the value chain, and food security concerns of
"Reaffirming our commitment under the 2030 Development Agenda
to prohibit, by 2020, certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute
to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute
to illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and refrain from introducing
new such subsidies, recognizing that appropriate and effective special
and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries
should be an integral part of the WTO fisheries subsidies negotiation."
During the meeting, several members - India, Ecuador, Guatemala, and
the Philippines, for example - said that the preamble must refer to
the Doha Work Program and the Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration of
2005 as well as the UN Sustainable Development Goal 14.6.
Members also sharply differed during the meeting on the definitional
issues pertaining to what would constitute IUU subsidies, including
the issues of territorial jurisdiction, and other provisions, negotiators
The US which has all along taken a back seat during the negotiations
suddenly sprang up like Rip Van Winkle to issue an ambiguous message
about the outcome it wants to see at Buenos Aires, said an African
negotiator who asked not to be quoted.
To start with, the US remains fiercely opposed to any mention of Doha
either in the fisheries subsidies agreement or in the Buenos Aires
ministerial declaration, the negotiator said.
In response to overwhelming demand for sourcing the fisheries subsidies
agreement to the Doha Work Program of 2001, the US asked members not
to let potential stumbling blocks in the preamble to get in the way
of discussions on disciplines, said a trade negotiator who asked not
to be quoted.
While remaining skeptical about a substantive agreement on fisheries
subsidies at the Buenos Aires meeting, the US said members must aim
for an agreement on transparency notifications.
The US said it remains open to members' efforts for an agreement while
raising concerns on the language on subsidies for disaster relief
and territorial jurisdiction. The US also raised concerns on definitional
issues concerning small scale and artisanal fishing, according to
In sharp contrast, China, which had all along demanded a balanced
outcome in the Doha rules covering fisheries subsidies and improvements
in transparency and due process in anti-dumping and countervailing
measures, expressed doubt whether any substantive agreement on fisheries
subsidies is possible without a text.
China said that it welcomed text while cautioning that it will not
be possible to stitch one during the next three months.
China suggested that the proponents have the responsibility for generating
the text but the issue is who is going to table a text at this juncture,
said another negotiator who asked not to be quoted.
Privately, the Chair has conveyed to some members that he is not going
to table any text on his own.
He said members must finalize the draft text. "We should make
every hour count and keep our eyes forward, that way we could get
to a text that looks like a chair's text but properly owned by members,"
Ambassador McCook said. "That is the expectation," he added.
He urged members to accelerate discussions, saying "we need your
inputs at this stage."
"There is less than three months to the completion of preparation
for MC11 ... Time is going to be at a premium."
Despite these reservations and differences, the proponents - New Zealand,
the European Union, Peru, Argentina, and the ACP (African Caribbean
and Pacific) group among others - pressed for a substantive outcome
for prohibiting fisheries subsidies for illegal, unreported, and unidentified
(IUU) fishing at the World Trade Organization's eleventh ministerial
meeting in Buenos Aires in December.
Korea and Japan suggested that the issues set out in the matrix are
linked, such as, for example, special and differential treatment and
assessments for fishing.
Members have a long, long way to go through all the proposals in the
matrix and the next round of meetings towards the end of this month
will decide whether a draft text is possible by the time trade ministers
from select countries gather in Marrakesh on 9 October, said a developing
country negotiator from South America.
In crux, the developing countries have one last chance for ensuring
the survival of the Doha Work Program of 2001 and if they fail to
mention "Doha" in the face of opposition from the US and
the EU then Doha is buried once and for all at Buenos Aires, said
negotiators who asked not to be quoted.