WTO: the Worldbank enters the fray of fisheries subsidies and the WTO

On 18 November 2009 the Worldbank announced the release of a document titled "Concluding Doha: it matters". The paper advocates a rapid conclusion of the ongoing negotiations.

Besides explaining the benefits, in terms of market access, that WTO Members would reap from the completion of the Round the Worldbank notes that:
"On the environmental front...there will be benefits from disciplining subsidies that encourage overfishing and from lowering tariffs on technologies that can reduce global warming. Over 75 % of global fish stocks - crucial for food security in many developing countries - are overexploited with a resulting loss for the world economy of USD 50 billion."

This statement by the Worldbank comforts the view, held by many, that new rules in fisheries subsidies will solve, first and foremost environmental problems. An outsider could then ask the question: why has this subject been placed under the Rules chapter negotiations and not under the "Trade and Environment" chapter?

Curiosly enough a similar question could be asked about fish products. They are being put in the same basket as cars, computers or wash-machines when it comes to negotiating reductions on import tariffs. Fish products are covered by the so called NAMA negotiations (Non-Agricultural Market Access) negotiations.

(Note that marine mammals appear to fall under the so called agricultural products. I noticed this when reading Canada's request for consultations (the first step of in a WTO legal challenge) on the EU's trade ban on seal's products. Among the violation invoked by Canada there is one that concerns the WTO's agreement on Agriculture, i.e. Article 4.2 of the Agriculture Agreement prohibiting

Here is the link to the Wolrdbank announcement:

And for those interested Canada's request for consultations with the EU on the latter's ban on trade of seal's products has WTO references WT/DS400/1, G/L/909, G/TBT/D/36, G/AG/GEN/87 and is dated 4 November 2009. Note also that Norway and Iceland joined Canada against the EU.

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