wto: WTO fish sops pact: Draft leaves out India’s proposals, 25 year exemption cut to 7 years-Share Market Daily

In a setback to India, the draft agreement on fisheries subsidies at the World Trade Organization (WTO) has done away with New Delhi’s proposals to put an end to non-specific fuel subsidies or those that are not targeted at a particular industry such as those given by the US and EU to their transport and water sports and lead to illegal, unregulated and uncontrolled fishing globally.

The draft also allows only seven years’ transition period for developing countries as against India’s proposal that developing countries not engaged in distant water fishing should be exempt from overfishing subsidy prohibitions for 25 years.

Fishing beyond 200 nautical miles from the seashores of a country is called distant water fishing.

Officials said that India will stick to its stand and take it up at the ministerial conference that begins Sunday.

“Our proposal on non-specific fuel subsidy has been done away with. It is disappointing but we will point this out and stick to our stand,” said an official.

Subsidies for fisheries in India include a sales tax rebate on diesel, financial assistance during a fishing ban, assistance for purchase of new nets and boats, life-saving jackets and navigation systems besides the development of marine infrastructure.

“A developing country member may grant or maintain the subsidies…to fishing and fishing related activities within its exclusive economic zone and the area of competence of a relevant RFMO/A [for a maximum of 7 years after the entry into force of this Agreement][up to the year 2030],” according to the text.

Square brackets indicate that the text has not been agreed and is still under discussion.

Moreover, subsidies granted or maintained would be exempt from actions for two additional years after the end of the period- similar to the peace clause that developing countries have for agriculture subsidies.

As per the draft, developing countries can give subsidies for low income, resource-poor and livelihood fishing or fishing related activities, up to 12 or 24 nautical miles measured from the baselines. This will also come up for discussion at the four-day ministerial conference.

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