Compilation of seven fisheries subsidies proposals circulated to WTO members
As requested by members behind seven fisheries subsidies proposals, the chair of the WTO Negotiating Group on Rules (NGR), Ambassador Wayne McCook (Jamaica), circulated to WTO members on 28 July a document compiling these submissions in the form of a matrix. The compilation is intended to help WTO members prepare over the summer for intensive negotiations in September.
The compilation matrix reflects seven textual proposals: from New Zealand, Iceland and Pakistan; the European Union; Indonesia; the African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) Group of States; a Latin American group composed of Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru and Uruguay; the Least-Developed Countries (LDC) Group; and Norway. All seven proposals are aimed at reaching a decision by December at the 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires.
Earlier, at the 18 July meeting of the NGR, WTO members had assented to the preparation of this document. The chair had said that the proponents had asked him, with the help of the WTO Secretariat, to prepare the compilation matrix on their behalf. He emphasized that this will not be a chair’s proposed text, but a simple compilation of members’ proposals with nothing added or subtracted.
The chair said this document, with its side-by-side presentation of the various proposals, should help members as they prepare to consult with their capitals over the summer. The next cluster of meetings will be scheduled in September.
Fisheries subsidies talks move forward with seven proposals
WTO members on 18 July agreed to move to the next phase of negotiations on fisheries subsidies after a surge of new and revised proposals aimed at reaching a decision by December at the Ministerial Conference were submitted. Members assented to the preparation of a document compiling the proposals in the form of a matrix, which is intended to help members firm up positions over the summer ahead of intensive September negotiations.
“Thanks to the surge in effort, we are now in a position where we have all the promised textual proposals delivered,” the chair of the Negotiating Group on Rules, Ambassador Wayne McCook (Jamaica), said at the close of a cluster of informal meetings held on 13, 17 and 18 July.
At the 13 July meeting, revised submissions from the European Union and Indonesia were introduced, as was a new proposal from Norway. After that meeting, the African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) Group of States and the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group submitted new textual proposals, and a group of six Latin American countries submitted a revised text. The Latin American group is composed of Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru and Uruguay. All six of the new and revised proposals were discussed at the 17-18 July meeting. Along with a previously-discussed joint submission by New Zealand, Iceland and Pakistan, these make for a total of seven textual proposals on fisheries subsidies.
All seven proposals will be reflected in the compilation matrix which, the chair clarified, the proponents had asked him, with the help of the WTO Secretariat, to prepare on their behalf. He emphasized that this will not be a chair’s proposed text, but a simple compilation of members’ proposals with nothing added or subtracted. The chair said this document, with its side-by-side presentation of the various proposals, should help members as they prepare to consult with their capitals over the summer. The next cluster of meetings will be scheduled in September.
“We are now at the phase of our work where time is valuable,” the chair said. “Certainly when we come back, it will not be a time for generalities.”
A number of members reiterated calls – reflected in all of the proposals – for a fisheries subsidies agreement to be reached at the 11th Ministerial Conference, which will be held in December in Buenos Aires. Several members lauded, in particular, the timely inclusion of LDCs’ and ACP members’ interests in the text-based phase of the negotiations.
The chair, summarizing the meeting, said the discussions were “preliminary but useful”. In terms of prohibitions of subsidies that lead to overfishing and overcapacity, the chair said members are exploring various approaches to pinpoint such subsidies and needed to thresh out a solution.
On the issue of the geographic scope or how different parts of the seas and oceans would be covered by the disciplines, the chair said that interesting ideas have arisen and he encouraged members to continue to think these through. On another issue of scope, he remarked that there was a sense of “emerging clarity” that the agreement will be restricted to subsidies to maritime fishing and will exclude subsidies granted for aquaculture and inland fishing.
A further issue identified by the chair was what role, if any, certain determinations by national, regional, and international fishery management authorities should have in WTO rules. Special and differential treatment for developing countries and LDCs, he added, remains “a work in progress”.
The chair urged members to continue to check with their respective national fishery authorities. “It is incumbent on us to relate what we are discussing to the true realities of our own national policies and policy intents,” the chair said. “We are now in a true negotiating phase where each of us is an equal party with equal responsibility.”
Fisheries subsidies: Compilation matrix of textual proposals received to date
Introduction by the Chair
At the 18 July 2017 meeting of the Negotiating Group on Rules, I reported that the proponents collectively had requested that I produce a compilation, in the form of a matrix, of all of the textual proposals that had been received, to assist Members in analysing and comparing the proposals. As the Negotiating Group agreed with this request at that meeting, I have now prepared the attached matrix, which has been validated by the proponents.
Regarding its status, as I emphasized at the meeting the matrix is not a Chair text. It is simply a compilation, topic by topic, of the seven textual proposals now on the table. Nothing has been added to or subtracted from any of the proposals and no judgements are expressed or implied. It is meant to be a purely technical document and is without prejudice to and does not replace any of the proposals, all of which remain before the Group.
The matrix is intended as a tool, to serve a basis for topical discussions of the proposals when we reconvene in the fall. Between now and then, it is my hope that it will help Members to identify areas of greatest and least convergence among the proposals and thus assist us in sharpening our focus as we intensify our work in the lead-up to MC11.
Concerning its content, the matrix is organized into rows representing the topics and sub-topics, and columns representing the proposals. Thus for each topic or subtopic, the matrix presents a side-by-side comparison of the corresponding texts from the proposals.
Regarding the topics and subtopics, these have been derived from the proposals themselves and the aim is that each row in the matrix addresses one main idea. Thus, the breakouts are as granular as required to do this, such that similar ideas across different proposals are grouped together.
The way that the topics are broken out has meant that in some cases the text from a given proposal on a particular topic is a partial excerpt from the relevant provision in that proposal, rather than the entire provision. In addition, for the same reason, in some cases, where a particular provision in a proposal is relevant to more than one topic, it is repeated in each place where it is relevant. Because of the variation in the structures of the different proposals, some compromises were necessary in categorizing elements of certain proposals. Again, this is entirely without prejudice to the substance.
In terms of formatting, for ease of reading the formatting in the matrix is uniform. Thus, the original formatting in each proposal has been conformed to a standardized formatting that is used throughout the matrix. The only new formatting that has been introduced in the matrix is underlining of certain terms (mainly in the proposals' definitions), simply for ease of reading.
Finally, the matrix includes the following proposals:
Proposed MC11 Fisheries Subsidies Disciplines: Implementing SDG Target 14.6 – New Zealand, Iceland, Pakistan
Advancing toward a multilateral outcome on fisheries subsidies in the WTO (Revision) – European Union
Proposed disciplines on prohibitions and special and differential treatment for fisheries subsidies (Revision) – Indonesia
ACP Group text proposal: Fisheries subsidies disciplines – Guyana on behalf of the ACP Group
Proposal for disciplines on fisheries subsidies – Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, Uruguay
LDC Group fisheries subsidies text proposal – Cambodia on behalf of the LDC Group
Discipline and prohibition on subsidies to IUU fishing – Norway