Agri Business

India wants ‘ambition’ pared on regulating fisheries subsidies at WTO

Amiti Sen New Delhi | Updated on January 12, 2018

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Wary about attempts to fast-track an agreement on regulating fisheries subsidies at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) that might impact small fishermen, India has cautioned countries pushing for a year-end pact to scale down their ambitions.

“Consensus has eluded the negotiations since 2001, and the approach should be pragmatic and low on ambition,” India's representative said at a recent meeting of the negotiating group on rules.

Many countries are trying to ensure that the WTO Trade Ministers’ meeting in December in Buenos Aires delivers an agreement to regulate fisheries subsidies.

However, countries like India and the ACP group are demanding that small and artisanal fishermen be exempt from reduction commitments; others, such as the US, are arguing against a special and differential treatment (S&DT).

“India's demand that small and artisanal fishermen be exempt... has been reflected in statements by the ACP (African, Caribbean, Pacific) Group as well as the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group,” a Commerce Ministry official told BusinessLine. A paper by Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay has made a case for protecting small fishermen.

But the US and other countries are not in favour of S&DT for developing countries. The US, in its representation at the rules group meeting, said it did not believe any major developing nation should have exemptions or different obligations.

There is also disagreement over the scope of the agreement. While many, including India, want the new rules on fisheries to apply on large-scale, industrial fishing outside national jurisdiction, others want it to apply on all waters.

Brazil, India, Egypt, Peru, China and the LDC group want technical assistance and capacity building for the areas of unreported and unregulated fishing before restrictions kick in. “The next meetings in mid-June will determine to what extent countries are willing to compromise. If a pact is to be signed in December, ambitions have to be pared,” the official said.

Published on May 31, 2017

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