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India wants WTO fishery pact to offer equitable space for growth

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Friday, May 27, 2022, 07:00 (GMT + 9)

India favours a 25-year exemption from over-fishing subsidy prohibition for developing countries that are not engaged in distant-water fishing.

India will endorse a proposal at the World Trade Organization (WTO) on fishery subsidies if the agreement is equitable and does not tie the member-countries to a disadvantageous position in perpetuity, official sources said on Wednesday.

A series of meetings are taking place in Geneva to reach a consensus on an agreement, aimed at containing harmful subsidies to promote sustainable fishing, ahead of the 12th ministerial conference that starts from June 12.

India favours a 25-year exemption from over-fishing subsidy prohibition for developing countries that are not engaged in distant-water fishing. At the same time, it suggests big subsidisers abolish their dole-outs within these 25 years, setting the stage for most developing nations to follow suit.

New Delhi believes that big subsidisers (advanced fishing nations) must take greater responsibility in scrapping their dole-outs and reducing fishing capacities, in sync with the principles of “polluter pays” and “common but differentiated responsibilities”.

“India is committed to concluding the negotiations so long as it provides space for equitable growth and freedom in developing fishing capacities for the future without locking members into disadvantageous arrangements in perpetuity,” one of sources said.

Nevertheless, India is actively engaged in discussion with member-countries to find a consensus. “We hope that there can be an outcome because everybody has put in a lot of effort and we hope that something will emerge which will be an outcome and which will be a win-win for everybody,” said the source.

Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, who chairs the negotiations, has convened a week-long meeting of WTO members from May 30 to resolve contentious issues.

Massive subsidies, extended mostly by large fishing nations, have contributed to the overexploitation of the world’s fish stocks. An independent study by a group of authors, led by U Rashid Sumaila of University of British Columbia, shows the fishery subsidy in India stood at only $227 million in 2018, way below $7.26 billion in China, $3.80 billion in the EU, $3.43 billion in the US, $3.19 billion in South Korea and $2.86 billion in Japan.

Author / Source: Fe Bureau / Financial Express

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