India, China on fisheries subsidies negotiations: WTO

India and China backed the incubator groups to streamline the negotiations for harmful fisheries subsidies and pointed out that the agreement should take careful consideration of the demands of the developing nations.

India, in the 2017 Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, opposed the proposal to end fisheries subsidies, as there was no clear definition for a lot of elements concerning the interest of developing countries.

India wishes to protect subsidies given to low-income and resource-poor artisanal fishing community as its very less compared to the ones given by the developed countries. The ban on illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing might also lead to prohibition on non IUU fishing, since what constitutes IUU fishing has not been established.

A special and differential treatment is sought as its subsidies to small fishers in the form of support for motorisation of fishing boats, fuel rebates and infrastructure support, all fall under the targeted subsidies list at the WTO.

India is also rooting for subsidies to be allowed for fishing up to the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) generally extending up to 200 nautical miles from a country’s coastline and not just up to the territorial waters (up to 12 nautical miles).

The developed countries are targeting specific subsidies which will create an imbalance, where developed counties will gain from the restrictions on subsidies.  A Centre for WTO Studies paper by Radhika Kumar says: “The disciplines on fishery subsidies have a market access agenda and a clear commercial interest of selected developed countries. Therefore, developing countries need to ensure that the history of the imbalance suffered from the disciplines on agriculture subsidies during the Uruguay round is not repeated in fisheries subsidies”. The developing countries should be allowed to develop their fisheries sector, hence there is  a need for special and differential treatment arising.

In the next Ministerial Conference in Kazakhstan in 2020, members hope to finalise a pact that prohibits certain forms of fishery subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing and thus eliminate subsidies that contribute to IUU fishing. WTO on its official website mentioned that members also recognized that appropriate, effective, special and differential treatment for developing country members and least developed country members should be an integral part of these negotiations, which shall yield a positive signal.  

Abha Boyal

Abha has taste of years in journalism and writing. She is known to elaborate her findings in a vibrant way. With writing as her incredible skill, Abha also enjoys exploring new places. She stays focused on whatever she does and this makes her an all rounder.

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