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India to Oppose Curbs on Subsidies to Poor Fishermen at WTO Meets

India will resist any cuts to its subsidies to impoverished fishermen in the World Trade Organization (WTO) and want a freeze on fishing subsidies from advanced nations such as the United States and the European Union, according to three government sources.

New Delhi is to press its demand for subsidies for its approximately nine million poor fishermen working up to 200 nautical miles from its coast during the WTO Ministerial Conference (MC13), which will be held in Abu Dhabi from February 26 to 29, according to top government officials.

In the next round of fisheries discussions, India would demand, along with other members, that advanced countries agree to a 25-year prohibition on subsidies to their fishing sector operating in international seas, officials said.

Officials declined to be identified according to government policy on discussions at international forums

Einar Gunnarsson, opens new tab, chair of the WTO’s fisheries subsidies negotiations committee, has said members will work to reach an agreement on the draft for submission to ministers, aiming to curb subsidies contributing to over-capacity and over-fishing.

In 2022, WTO members reached an initial deal, opens new tab to cut billions of subsidies for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing or fishing of over-fished stocks.

India still has to ratify the agreement, which requires the approval of two-thirds of the WTO’s 164 members to become operational. So far, 55 members including China, the U.S. and many African countries have ratified the agreement.

India is likely to ratify the agreement later this year after the general elections, said one of the officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

The commerce ministry, which is leading India’s negotiations at the WTO, declined to comment.

Global fishing subsidies are estimated at $35.4 billion, according to a 2019 study published in Marine Policy, opens new tab, and China, the EU, the United States, South Korea and Japan are among the top subsidisers.

Developing nations like India need differential treatment for their fishing industry in coming years, which is largely dominated by poor fishermen, officials said.

 

 

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Sydney Okafor

I am so passionate about this my profession as a broadcast journalist and voiceover artists and presently a reporter at TV360 Nigeria

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