Face-off between developed, developing countries imminent at WTO; India says will not bend on subsidies to fishermen

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Face-off between developed, developing countries imminent at WTO

A clear divide has been emerging as WTO tries to negotiate an agreement on fisheries and India has categorically said that it is the developed world which is responsible for the depletion of marine resources and it will not compromise on subsidies to its fishermen. Ahead of the formal start of the 12th ministerial meet, a permanent representative of India to WTO, Brajendra Navnit said, “We are committed to protecting rights of our traditional fishermen, we will not let any impact on their livelihood, there will be no stoppage in subsidies they are getting, this is India’s commitment and India will not bend on this.” It was the 15th of July last year when all the ministers assembled on this subject. The representative ministers of 82 countries out of 120 odd countries were supporting India on policy space for the future, recognising the concept of common plus differentiated responsibility which shows that India has the backing of developing countries.

The stage is set for a face-off between the developing and developed countries at the 12th World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting in the Swiss town of Geneva. “Coalition of developing countries they know that they have not depleted these resources so obviously their interest is protecting its small and traditional fishermen, they would not like any discipline in their own water, they seek to have policy scope carve out when they grow physically,” said Brajendra Navnit. “They have not engaged in the distant water fishing and they have restrained them to fish sustainably in their own water for livelihood purpose and would not like to take future responsibility as someone said here they were not part of the problem, the problem is created by those who are engaging by exhausting their own resources into distant water fishing. So for these set of countries, they would like to maintain kind of safety net for their small and traditional fishers, fishing on their own water they should not be under any subsidy discipline regime,” he added.

Consensus on fishing looks unlikely until developed countries bring something credible to the table because developing nations believe that developed nations are the bigger players in deep-sea fishing and they have given subside over a couple of generations. 

According to the latest data from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, fish stocks are at risk of collapsing in many parts of the world due to overexploitation. It is estimated that 34 per cent of global stocks are overfished compared with 10 per cent in 1974, meaning they are being exploited at a pace where the fish population cannot replenish itself, states the fact sheet published by WTO. The thematic sessions that will discuss the TRIPS waiver proposal and WTO response to the pandemic and future pandemics will commence on Monday followed by a session on food security.

(ANI Inputs)

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