US: Fisheries subsidies negotiations alive and kicking… at the TPP

Several articles in the Japanese press report on Japan’s (and Canada’s) alleged positions in on fisheries subsidies rules in the framework of the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations.

Contrary to the WTO, where negotiating positions are made public by way of written submissions, there is little information about the exact content of the proposed rules and of the positions of the participating countries.

From the articles it appears that Japan is opposing proposals by key TPP players (US, New Zealand, Australia) to introduce far reaching prohibitions on fisheries subsidies. The online article of 9 June 2013 by “The Japan Times” mentions that:

"If the interdiction is implemented by the 11 current TPP member states, the government will call for its scope to be limited to subsidies that would unquestionably lead to overfishing, as the Japanese fishing industry heavily depends on this source of funding, according to the sources.

The government’s position also reflects concern the ban may include subsidies for the construction of ports and other infrastructure, hindering recovery efforts in coastal regions where the 2011 earthquake and tsunami ravaged local fishing industries.

But the issue is far from a done deal, as differences remain between countries including the United States, Australia and New Zealand, which are hoping to protect the environment and fishing resources through the measure, and other TPP countries that are still opposed.

Japan will become the 12th member of the TPP negotiations during the next round from July 15 to 25 in Malaysia, but it has yet to obtain official documents detailing the discussions to date. The TPP members aim to agree on a Pacific Rim trade liberalization framework by the end of the year.

The information the government has collected so far on the subsidy ban from participating countries points to the possibility of the measure being comprehensive with only a limited number of exceptions, such as subsidies for installing distress signal equipment, the sources said.

A number of officials in Tokyo fear such a ban among the TPP nations could hand the fishing industries of non-member countries such as China and South Korea the advantage over Japan’s."
It would be interesting to know whether the proposed prohibition apply in the same way to developed and developing TPP countries. At the WTO negotiations developing countries have consistently asked for wide ranging exceptions from subsidy prohibitions.

Also interesting to know is Canada’s position on this subject. The article refers to Canada as opposing the proposals by the US, New Zealand and Australia.

Here is the link to the article:

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