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Coronavirus delays hope of fishing subsidies deal at WTO by Fermín Koop June 15,2020   |  Source: China Dialogue Ocean

Recognising the problem of overfishing, the 164 member countries of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have been trying for more than two decades to reach an agreement on eliminating harmful fishing subsidies.

Of the US$35 billion of public subsidies that went into supporting global fisheries in 2018, $22 billion were classed as harmful because they increased fishing capacity, largely through fuel tax exemptions.

The deadline for agreeing a deal to end such subsidies, in accordance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is this year. But meeting it will be highly difficult, experts agree.

The WTO has already cancelled its Ministerial Conference, scheduled for June in Kazakhstan, and negotiations are now on hold until measures to curb the pandemic are further lifted.

Keith Rockwell, WTO spokesperson, said the ability of many Geneva-based delegations to liaise with their home nations and other delegations has been “restricted” due to the outbreak – which has now become the priority for them over other WTO-related matters.

Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, who leads the fisheries subsidies talks at the WTO, has not yet presented a consolidated draft of the agreement. He has tried to maintain talks online, but that has proven difficult for

Theme(s): Post Harvest Technology and Trade.

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