WTO: reporting on informal negotiating meeting on fisheries subsidies (4)

As mentioned in my post of yesterday, 28/12/09, the FFA has published a new issue (Vol. 2, Nr 12 of 12 December 2009) of its "FFA Fisheries Trade News" containing an article titled "Update on fisheries subsidies ‘Roadmap’ discussions at the WTO".

The article includes reports on the informal meetings held by the WTO Negotiating Group on Rules on October 28-29 and December 10-11, 2009. Concerning the October meeting, the ICTSD included a short report in its "Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest", Vol. 13, Nr 38 of 4h November 2009 under an article titled "WTO Rules Group Builds Understanding, but Gaps Remain".

According to both sources (FFA and ICTSD), at the October meetings Delegates took up again their discussions on the Chair's "Roadmap", in particular fisheries management conditionalities (Article V of 2007 Chair's Draft Text) applicable to those subsidies that might eventually be permitted under General Exemptions (Article II) and Special and Differential Treatment for Developing Members (Article III).

With regard to the December meeting, the reading of the FFA's reporting suggests that the meeting covered the two last sections of the Chair's Roadmap, namely "Implementation" and "Transition Rules".

Worth mentioning is that, according to the FFA reporting, the Small, Vulnerable Economies group (SVEs) renewed their call for the set-up of a sub-committee dealing exclusively with issues related to technical assistance and support programs. The creation of this sub-committee was proposed by the SVEs with their submission TN/RL/GEN/158 of 22 May 2008. I copy hereunder the relevant paragraph of the SVEs proposal:

III.4.3 The Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures shall establish a Sub-Committee dealing exclusively with issues related to technical assistance and support programs under this Annex, specifically as regards fisheries management systems and measures related thereto. The Sub-Committee shall coordinate the requests from developing country Members for technical assistance and support programs and shall review the effectiveness of the technical assistance provided to developing country Members. The Sub-Committee shall periodically report its findings to the Committee on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures and the Committee on Trade and Development (3).

(3) Future discussion would be required on the procedures to be followed if a developing country member does not receive the requested technical assistance.

Apparently the SVEs' call was well received by a majority of developing countries. Some developed countries (the FFA report cites New Zealand) reacted more cautiously and stated "that technical assistance should not necessarily imply greater financial transfers and it would be useful to develop an inventory of systems that already exist."

As a final point I note that there is no reference in the reports to a proposal tabled by Korea on 24 November 2009, i.e. before the December meeting, titled "Framework of the Disciplines on Fisheries Subsidies" (TN/RL/W/245).

Here are the links to the reports by FFA:


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