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Vietnam contributes to WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies

Tarah Nguyen Tarah Nguyen

thuyhang.vietnamtimes@gmail.com

March 01, 2021 | 15:00

Vietnamese Ambassador Le Thi Tuyet Mai, head of the Permanent Mission to the United Nations (UN), World Trade Organisation (WTO), and other international organisations in Geneva, led a delegation participating in WTO negotiations on fisheries subsidies, which was recently held in an online format.

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Ambassador Le Thi Tuyet Mai, head of the Vietnamese Permanent Mission to the United Nations (UN), World Trade Organisation (WTO), and other international organisations in Geneva. Photo:

The Vietnamese delegation’s participation in these discussions was done with the aim of reaching a consensus and accelerating negotiations aimed at achieving swift and satisfactory solutions for all parties to meet the sustainable development goal (SDG) 14.6 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the UN.

During the course of the meeting, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, chair of the WTO negotiating group, briefed the various heads of the delegation to the WTO and other participants on the work that has been done since January.

Ambassador Wills reiterated that WTO members should begin to express their views on an acceptable outcome which can lead to the successful conclusion of negotiations, with the main goal to protect aquatic resources worldwide.

Many statements delivered throughout the meeting noted the differences of opinions on the three issues discussed in the latest negotiation round, while proposing that many different forms of negotiation be used to try and find solutions as a means of narrowing the differences.

A number of members welcomed calls made by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the new WTO director-general, on February 15 that set out an introduction to the WTO’s new rules regarding fisheries subsidies in the year ahead.

The next round of negotiations on fisheries subsidies is set to start on March 15. WTO members can also conduct consultations ahead of the next round of negotiations.

The WTO’s 11th Ministerial Conference (MC11) and SDG 14.6 gave negotiators the task of securing an agreement to end subsidies for illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and which ban certain forms of fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing by the end of the year. WTO members have also fully committed to building on their progress from last year and reaching a resolution in the year ahead, said the VOV.

SDG 14.6, part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by all UN member states, including Vietnam, in 2015, affirms the WTO's role in the agenda of global fisheries subsidies.

It sets out, “by 2020, to prohibit certain forms of fisheries subsidies which contribute to overcapacity and overfishing, and to eliminate subsidies that contribute to IUU fishing, and refrain from introducing new such subsidies, recognising that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries should be an integral part of the WTO fisheries subsidies negotiation.”

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Workers process tra fish for export (Photo: VNA)

Addressing a meeting on January 22 as part of the session, Ambassador Le Thi Tuyet Mai appreciated efforts by the group’s chair, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, in promoting negotiations and introducing a draft revised consolidated text serving as the basis for talks on an agreement on fisheries subsidies.

She affirmed Vietnam’s commitment to actively promoting the talks on fisheries subsidies and consensus building so as to help attain progress in negotiations, helping to realise the Sustainable Development Goals.

During this session, WTO members discussed some important issues that need to be resolved to achieve an agreement on fisheries subsidies, including non-violation complaints. Others under consideration included criteria for identifying the catch level that is biologically sustainable and the exemption of some rules for manual fishing.

At the January 22 event, the chair of the negotiating group informed delegation heads about outcomes of meetings on fisheries subsidies, noting that members are aware of the urgency to conclude the talks, according to the VNA.

Ambassadors and delegation heads also repeated this viewpoint, stressing the need to remove the protracted bottlenecks in the core factors in negotiations on fisheries subsidies. Many of them urged WTO members to issue an agreement as soon as possible this year.

Vietnam’s active engagement in the WTO’s negotiations on fisheries subsidies also reflects the country’s commitment and sense of responsibility towards sustainable fisheries development and IUU fishing combat, thereby helping to preserve and sustainably use the seas and maritime resources for the sake of sustainable development.

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Tarah Nguyen