WTO Ministerial Conference Adopts Fisheries Subsidy Agreement to Curb Overfishing

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Hon Leatinuu Faumuina Wayne So’oialo at the WTO MC12.

The Twelfth WTO Ministerial Conference (MC12) convened at the World Trade Organisation headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

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Originally scheduled from the 12th June to the 15th of June 2022, the session was extended up until the early hours of the 17th of June 2022 due to negotiations to finalise the draft agreements and ministerial declarations, states a press release.

The delegation of Samoa was led by the Honourable Leatinuu Faumuina Wayne So’oialo, Minister for Commerce, Industry, and Labour and Minister for Trade, with the support of the Permanent Representative of Samoa in Geneva, Toleafoa Nella Levy and staff of the Samoa mission, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of Samoa.

 

One of the primary objectives of Samoa and the Pacific for MC12 was to conclude and have in place a Fisheries Subsidies Agreement to discipline harmful fisheries subsidies which would contribute to the achievement of the SDG14.6 target to “..prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, eliminate subsidies that contribute to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing..”

Hon Leatinuu Faumuina Wayne So’oialo at the WTO MC12.⁴

The Conference adopted the Fisheries Subsidies Agreement which covers IUU – Ilegal Unreported Unregulated with an an agreement to continue negotiations to include Overcapacity and Over Fishing, and to reach a comprehensive agreement as mandated by MC11 and SDG 14.6.

The Agreement has a sunset clause which would enable continued negotiations for 4 years, after which the agreement will lapse.

A total of seven outcomes were adopted by Ministers in the form of draft decisions and declarations, which included the legally-binding Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies.

1) Ministerial Outcome Document which includes the launch of the work on WTO Reform and the inclusion of decisions on Trade and environment, MSMEs and women economic empowerment;

2) Draft Ministerial Declaration on Food Security;

3) Draft Ministerial Decision on World Food Purchases exemption from export restrictions;

4) Draft Ministerial Declaration on WTO Response to COVID 19 and preparedness for future pandemics;

5) Draft Ministerial Decision on TRIPS Agreement (TRIPS Waiver);

6) Draft Ministerial Decision on Work program on Ecommerce and Moratorium; and

7) Draft Ministerial Decision on Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies

Samoa remains committed to the sustainable use and management of our ocean resources. The Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies will further ensure that Samoa, and the Pacific, are able to remain on the pathway to achieving SDG 14 by 2030.

On the ‘Challenges facing the Multilateral Trading System’, the Honourable Leatinuu reaffirmed Samoa’s commitment to the multilateral trading system and called on WTO members to be genuine in their intentions to support development through a targeted special and differential approach for developing countries, especially small island developing economies.