Business View Caribbean | Volume 8, Issue 8

11 BUSINESS VIEW CARIBBEAN VOLUME 8, ISSUE 8 W hile Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States have welcomed the progress on the Fisheries Subsidies negotiations, they have signalled that further adjustments are required, underlining the necessity for special and differential treatment (SDT) for small developing states. SDTs and carve outs for artisanal fishers are among the gaps that needed to be bridged towards a workable solution for the Caribbean. CARICOM Member States actively engaged in the negotiations at the Ministerial Level Meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Negotiations Committee in July. The WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies have been ongoing since the issuing of Doha Ministerial in 2001 and aims, among other things, to prohibit the most harmful subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing. In preparation for the meeting, the Council for Trade and Economic Development (COTED) met in special session on 13 July 2021. The CARICOM Secretariat, the Caribbean Regional Fisheries Mechanism (CRFM) and CARICOM delegations in Geneva, have been meeting regularly for several years to review progress and refine the Region’s positions in the negotiations. CARICOM continues to work as part of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group in Geneva. On 15 July, Ministers and heads of delegation agreed on text that can be used as the basis for future negotiations during what WTO Director General, Dr. Ngozi Okonko-Iweala, described as a “long but successful day.” The Hon. Hugh Todd, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Guyana, spoke on behalf of CARICOM at the meeting. He pointed out that it was the overwhelming subsidisation of large-scale distant water fishing nations that had created the problem of global overcapacity, WTO NEGOTIATIONS ON FISHERIES SUBSIDIES: SMALL STATES NEE DIFFERENTIAL TREATMENT FOR ‘WORKABLE’ SOLUTION – CARICOM overfishing and illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. “It is therefore at those countries that the prohibition disciplines should be targeted,” he said, adding that those states should bear the costs for rectifying the problem. He raised the Region’s concerns that flexibilities in the revised text were skewed to the advantage of the major, large-scale, distant water fishing nations, while those proposed for small, vulnerable economies were “inadequate to address our interests. We further emphasis that our commercial fishing operations are miniscule in comparison to those of major players and do not benefit from harmful subsidies.” His position was supported by representatives of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and other CARICOM Member States who Supporting the fisheries sector is of critical importance as it contributes significantly to the socio-economic well-being of fisher folks and their families OPENING L INES