WTO: Director-General Pascal Lamy on fisheries subsidies on World Environment Day (5 June 2010)

Mr Pascal Lamy made a statement on World Environment Day and referred to fisheries subsidies negotations as an area where the WTO is helping to protect world oceans. On the issue on reaching a deal on this negotiating subject Mr Lamy said:

"A deal in the WTO would mean richer oceans for future generations and would constitute a triple-win for trade, environment and development".

What strcuk me is that Mr Lamy did not say a deal in the context of the Doha Round but rather... a deal in the WTO...(outside the Doha Round?).


WTO: fisheries subsidies should be part of the single undertaking...according to Barbados and New Zealand

Mining in the internet n the issue of fisheries subsidies negotiations I found an interesting interview that “Subsidy Watch” an electronic newsletter that provides news, commentary and analysis related to subsidies and sustainable development published in May 2009, in its issue 39.

The interviewed were Matthew A. Wilson, First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Barbados to the United Nations and other International Organisations at Geneva and Alice Tipping, Second Secretary to the WTO for the New Zealand Permanent Mission in Geneva. According to Subsidy Watch “Japan and the European Commission were also asked to respond, but did not do so before our publishing deadline.” I wonder whether the US were also asked to respond to the questions.

The last question is about whether the WTO should stick to the single undertaking when it comes to fisheries subsidies negotiations. I copy hereunder the full question and the answers, highlighting the passages with references to fisheries subsidies staying in the single undertaking.

SW: What are the odds that the fisheries subsidies negotiations move to another venue if the WTO talks remain stalled for too long? In a related question, if the round as a whole does not progress in the near future, would you endorse having the fisheries negotiations ‘carved out’ so that they could proceed separately?

Barbados: I am confident that the Round will be completed. The talks are not stalled. We are still having meetings and negotiations and there is still much to discuss and agree to in the area of fisheries, so it is too early to begin looking at shifting the venue or carving out any negotiations for early harvest. The DDA is clear on the issue of the single undertaking, so all issues will have to be adopted by Ministers simultaneously. I do believe that, even in the unlikely event that we were not to finalise the negotiations on fisheries, the issue of sustainability, fisheries management and the developmental aspects of fisheries have been sufficiently ventilated over the past few years, especially by important NGOs such as the WWF, the ICTSD and OCEANA, that engagement on this issue would be continue. The key is for the FAO and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations to follow through on some of the issues being discussed at the WTO, even in the event that there is no formal agreement.

New Zealand: The WTO is the appropriate venue for multilateral negotiations on fisheries subsidies for two key reasons. First, the problem is as much economic and trade-related as it is environmental. Over a third of global fish production is traded internationally, making fish one of the most traded ‘agricultural’ commodities. Fish and fish products account for around 13 percent of global ‘agricultural’ trade. The World Bank and the FAO, in their 2008 report entitled “Sunken Billions”, estimate that the potential benefits of this trade are far less than they should be; the economic losses in the global marine fisheries industry, resulting from inefficiencies (including subsidies) and overfishing add up to US$50 billion per year— that’s US$1.5 trillion over the last 30 years.

Second, disciplines around fisheries subsidies should be derived from, and consistent with, existing disciplines around general subsidies. The WTO Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures’ existing disciplines set a solid, multilaterally agreed legal framework for these trade measures, and the terminology and concepts involved have been interpreted and clarified by the dispute-settlement process over many years. It is the logical institutional and legal base from which to build a new set of disciplines on fisheries subsidies.

These negotiations provide a unique opportunity to create effective disciplines on fisheries subsidies that deplete fish stocks on which the livelihoods of vulnerable communities depend. The negotiations are an integral element of the Doha Development Agenda, and New Zealand believes the final disciplines should form part of the outcome of the Doha round as a whole.

Here is the link to the full text of the interview:


WTO: current stalemate in the Doha Round - "Two issues need to be resolved".

Last May the IISS (International Institute for Strategic Studies) held the Bahrain Global Forum in Manama, on the subject “Rebalancing Global Geo-economic Strategies for Security, Growth and Development”.

One of the key speeches (a special address) was delivered by Pascal Lamy on Sunday 16 May 2010. The title of this special address was “Reshuffling the Deck of Global Economic Cards". By the way, I did not find this speech in the WTO’s website (Speeches of the Director General).

While in his speech Mr Lamy did not explicitly refer to the negotiations on “Rules” nor to fisheries subsidies, there was talk about fisheries in the ensuing Q&A session.

A number of media echoed the contents of this Q&A session. One of the statements these media quoted was the following:

"Two issues need to be resolved: one is a technical negotiation over fishery subsidies, and the other is that the Obama administration needs the political will to take a Doha Round bill to Congress and get it passed," Lamy said.

Here are the links to the “Special Address” and to the Q&A question:



And here the links to media discussing Mr Lamy’s statements:






USA: USD 18 million federal subsidies underway for American Samoa (and its tuna cannery)

American Samoa is getting a USD 18 million money transfer as part of the efforts of the local government to keep alive StarKist Samoa.

I copy here under the passage of the bill H.R. 4213 “The American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act of 2010” explaining the rationale for the transfer:

"American Samoa economic development support. Existing possessions credit corporations with active business operations in American Samoa were allowed an economic development tax credit to offset their U.S. tax liability on income earned in American Samoa from active business operations. This credit was based on the corporation’s employment and capital investment in American Samoa. As a result of the economic downturn, those domestic corporations have been unable to utilize the economic development credit. The bill would provide a payment to the American Samoa Government for stimulating economic development in American Samoa in an amount equal to the cost of the economic development credit. This proposal is estimated to cost $18 million over 10 years."
Here is the link to the document:


And here is an extract of the press realease of 20 May 2010 by Congressman Faleomavaega in which he clearly states his views on how the money should be used.

“Because StarKist would have been entitled to 30A tax credits worth up to $18M if it had been operating at a profit, the money we have now been able to set aside as a direct payment to ASG is intended to be used to put our tuna cannery workers back to work at StarKist Samoa. This is why I will be entering in to discussions with the U.S. Department of Treasury, ASG and the Fono to make sure the funds are used for their intended purposes.”

“Also, to be clear, the entire $18M will be available in FY2010, if H.R. 4213 is signed into law. If signed into law, this will be the good news we have been waiting for as it will provide ASG with the means it needs to help StarKist until we can put a more long-term solution in place.”

“Again, I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for their strong show of support, and I look forward to working hand-in-hand with Governor Togiola and our Fono leaders and members as we do all we can do to save our tuna industry which is our largest private sector employer,” Faleomavaega concluded.
This is the link to the press release by Congress Faleomavaega:


USA: fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico asking for USD 100 million subsidies

Here is a link to the website of the "Gulf og Mexico Reef Fish Shareholders' Alliance" with the text of a "Joint Letter to Congress for Gulf Disaster Funding" filed on 21 May 2010.


The closing paragraph of the letter reads as follows:

"In closing, we urge you to approve a minimum of $100 million in funding for direct assistance to adversely affected commercial and recreational fishermen and fishing communities, to improve fisheries science, and to make fisheries more resilient to harm caused by human activities. These funds should be provided to and managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in a manner that is consistent with the conservation and management objectives of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as well as the goals of the agency."