USA: fisheries subsidies at the latest WTO Review of US Trade Policy (4)

When reading (once more) the minutes of the Trade Policy Review meeting (WTO doc WT/TPR/M/23/Add.1) I noticed that the word fishermen appears in the answer a question put by Argentina on the Trade Adjustment Assistance programme.

Here is the question:

AGENTINA (page 7) 

Which sectors in agriculture, manufacturing, and services have benefitted and what were the amounts?

RESPONSE:  The reauthorized TAA program has not been in operation long enough to evaluate the impact of expanded eligibility and increased benefits.  The following overview provides basic information on the expanded TAA programs, including a summary of the numbers of workers and industries covered by TAA certifications.

Program Overview
The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers, Alternative Trade Adjustment Assistance (ATAA), and Reemployment Trade Adjustment Assistance (RTAA) programs are authorized under the Trade Act of 1974, as amended.  These programs are collectively referred to as TAA, and provide assistance to workers who have been adversely affected by foreign trade.

The ARRA reauthorized and modified the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for Farmers program.  The TAA for Farmers program helps producers of raw agricultural commodities and fishermen [emphasis added] adjust to a changing economic environment associated with import competition through technical assistance and cash benefits.  The ARRA is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture, and the 2009 appropriation for the TAA for Farmers program was $90 million.  (More information on TAA for Farmers is available at:  http://www.fas.usda.gov/ITP/TAA/taa.asp)

This sounds like "income support" subsidies, somenthing which has been labelled as a prohibited subsidy in the 2007 draft Chair's text for a WTO agreement on fisheries  subsidies (doc TN/RL/GEN/213). 

What could shield these subsidies from such a prohibition is that the US could argue that they are non-specific, i.e. available not only to fishermen but also to workers in other sectors.

No comments: