China has been quick to deposit its instrument of acceptance for the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies this week, confiming its support for the agreement. WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala received the instrument from Commerce Minister Wang Wentao in Tianjin ahead of the World Economic Forum’s 14th Annual Meeting of the New Champions.
‘I am delighted to welcome China’s formal acceptance of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies. As the world leader in marine fish catch, China’s support for the implementation of this agreement is critical to multilateral efforts to safeguard oceans, food security, and livelihoods. By curbing harmful fishing subsidies worldwide, we can together forge a path towards a legacy of abundance and opportunity for generations to come,’ DG Okonjo-Iweala said.
‘The Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies is the second multilateral agreement reached by the WTO since its establishment in 1995, and the first WTO agreement aimed at achieving the goal of environmental sustainable development,’ commented Minister Wang Wentao.
‘It is a significant agreement to boost the confidence of all members in multilateralism. China has completed the approval procedure of the agreement and will work with all members to push the agreement to enter into force before the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference. At the same time, China will participate in the second phase of negotiations in a positive and constructive manner and look forward to an early outcome of the negotiations.’
Adopted by consensus at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) held in Geneva on 12-17 June 2022, the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies sets new binding, multilateral rules to curb harmful subsidies.
In addition, the Agreement recognises the needs of developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) and establishes a fund to provide technical assistance and capacity building to help them implement the obligations.
The Agreement prohibits support for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, bans support for fishing overfished stocks, and ends subsidies for fishing on the unregulated high seas.
Acceptances from two-thirds of WTO members are needed for the Agreement to come into effect.
Members also agreed at MC12 to continue negotiations on outstanding issues, with a view to making recommendations by MC13, to be held in February 2024 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for additional provisions that would further enhance the disciplines of the Agreement.