WTO - PHILIPPINES: protesters against fisheries trade liberalisation (including negotiations on fisheries subsidies?)

During the latest WTO Ministerial conference held in Geneva a number of demonstrations were held in down town but also around the WTO building.

One of these demonstrations included a group of fishermen from the Philippines. They were voicing their disapproval concerning the WTO’s negotiations which, among many other sectors, also affect trade fish products and the fisheries sector.

One of the banners that the “Progressive Fisherfolk Alliance in the Philippines” displayed during one of the demonstration read as follows:
“NO TO FISHERIES LIBERALIZATION - Seafish For Justice Network”.
The banner appears in a picture posted with an article in the “Trade Blog” of the World Development Movement (WDM) on 30 November 2009.

In the text of the article the author alludes to the fact that, according to the protestors the WTO and its policies are a threat to their livelihoods because of trade liberalisation in the fisheries sectors. The author also mentions that Filipino fishermen are against the WTO because “WTO rules allow multinationals the freedom to fish in Filipino waters”.

I must confess that was slightly puzzled by this last sentence. As far as I know no WTO rule imposes free access to the waters of one of its Members. In actual fact many WTO countries do not allow foreign fishing in their waters.

After reading the above mentioned article it is not clear to me whether the Filipino fishermen only oppose the WTO liberalising trade in fish products through the so called “NAMA” (Non-Agricultural Market Access) negotiations or whether they are also against the WTO disciplining subsidies to the fisheries sector. As a side comment it is interesting to see that the Philippines is a regular member of the “Friends of Fish” group of countries, pushing for a wide ranging ban of subsidies to fisheries.

For those interested here is the link to the article in the “Trade Blog” of WDM:

And here is the link to the Youtube video with an interview of Pabs Rosales, leader of the Progressive Fisherfolk Alliance in the Philippines

No comments: