In a previous post I quoted a recent speech given by Pascal Lamy at Stanford University on 27 October 2008.
Searching for "fisheries subsidies" in the "blogosphere" I found that Mr Lamy gave a lecture at the University of California, Berkeley on 29 October 2008 during which he refererred three times to "fisheries subsidies". Here are the relevant pargraphs:
"So, as we wait for the right political signals, in Geneva we continue to work towards resolution of the Special Safeguard Mechanism issue and others, including the question of high levels of trade-distorting subsidies extended to cotton farmers. We continue our work as well in areas like services, reducing fisheries subsidies, anti-dumping and specific development measures."
"But there is another reason as well. It is clear to many of us that current trade rules are inadequate for the world of today. Many see it as inequitable that rules on our books permit rich countries to pour billions of dollars into agriculture programmes which have impoverished developing country farmers over the last three decades. Many see it as unjust that we preside over a tariff system in which rich countries hit exports from poor countries with duties three or four times higher than those applied to exports from rich countries. Rules on the movement of goods through customs which date back to a time before bar coding and laptops seem antiquated. Failing to help Africa reform customs policies which require 40 documents and 30 days to clear shipments is difficult to explain. But failing to address fisheries subsidies which contribute to serious depletion of fish stocks seems downright irresponsible."
"Governments will also turn to regional or bilateral agreements rather than continue along the admittedly more difficult multilateral path. Such agreements have their place. I, myself, have negotiated a few of them in a previous life. But they are no substitute for a Doha deal. There are 430 regional and bilateral agreements in place today, 300 of these have been struck in the last eight years, and I can assure you that not one of them addresses the problem of excessive, trade-distorting farm subsidies. Not one of them will reduce the fisheries subsidies that threaten to empty our oceans. None will lead to the creation of global rules to facilitate trade or open globally trade in services."
The last paragraph brings a new light on the distintive character of WTO disciplines, i.e. they are multilateral. Mr Lamy is absolutely right in saying that no bilateral deal will go as far as prohibiting fisheries subsidies.
The full text of the lecture can be found at the WTO wbsite:
Here is also a link to a blog quoting Mr Lamy:
12 hours ago