India for 25 years exemption from subsidy cuts for developing countries that do not fish in distant waters

India, at a WTO meeting, pointed out that developing countries that do not fish in distant waters should be fully exempted from bans on overfishing subsidies for at least 25 years, as the sector is still in its infancy, an official source said.

This period will also provide policy space for developing countries to be on par with developed countries, the source added.

Fishing beyond 200 nautical miles from a country’s coast is called distant water fishing.

The issue is part of a deal proposed by WTO members on cutting harmful fisheries subsidies.

He said countries that have developed industrial fishing should take on more obligations based on the CBDR (common but differentiated responsibilities) concept and should ban harmful subsidies, the source said.

These issues were flagged by India during last week’s meeting in Geneva.

The chairman of the negotiations, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, had convened the “Week of Fish” to resolve contentious issues related to the proposed global agreement on the reduction of harmful fisheries subsidies, ahead of the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12 ) next month.

During the meeting, India also requested that fuel subsidies provided on a horizontal basis be covered under the scope of this agreement, as the objective of this agreement is based on a Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs). 14.6) and not on the principle of trade distortion enshrined in the existing Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures.

Further, India wants full exemption from subsidy cuts for small-scale and low-income fishers at least up to 200 nautical miles (NM) and not up to 12 NM as mentioned in the current Chair’s text.

Members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) are negotiating a draft agreement on fisheries subsidies.

The aim is to discipline subsidies for sustainable fishing and eliminate subsidies for IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing and prohibit their contributing to overcapacity and overfishing.

The 12th Ministerial Conference, the highest decision-making body of the WTO, is due to meet from June 12 to 15 in Geneva.

India has repeatedly stressed that it wants to finalize an agreement on fisheries subsidies at the WTO because irrational benefits and overfishing by many countries are hurting domestic fishers and their livelihoods.

The country wants a fair and balanced outcome as it provides support to its small and marginal fishers who depend on the sector for their livelihood.

At the WTO, member countries negotiate through a text to finalize an agreement.

The WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies were launched in 2001 in Doha, with a mandate to clarify and improve existing WTO disciplines on fisheries subsidies.

Unlike rich countries that provide billions of dollars in subsidies to their fishermen, India’s subsidy is only around Rs 1,000 crore. China, the EU, the United States, Korea and Japan provide 7.2 billion USD per year; 3.8 billion USD, 3.4 billion USD, 3.18 billion USD and 2.8 billion USD in grants per year respectively.

India mainly provides fuel and boat and other subsidies.

The President called a meeting again (Fish Decision Week) from May 30 on the proposed deal.

(This story has not been edited by the Devdiscourse team and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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