USTR - Statement of USTR Susan C. Schwab Following Meeting with Oceana to Discuss WTO Negotiations on Stronger Rules for Fisheries Subsidies
Office of the United States Trade Representative

 

Statement of USTR Susan C. Schwab Following Meeting with Oceana to Discuss WTO Negotiations on Stronger Rules for Fisheries Subsidies
07/18/2006


United States Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab met today with Andrew Sharpless, Chief Executive Officer of Oceana, to discuss the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on fisheries subsidies. Oceana, along with other groups, such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), has strongly supported the United States’ efforts to strengthen the WTO rules on fisheries subsidies that promote overcapacity and overfishing.

"An ambitious outcome in the WTO that eliminates harmful fisheries subsidies is critical, both to saving the oceans and to demonstrating that the WTO can promote policies that benefit both trade and the environment," said Ambassador Schwab. "I welcome the support of Oceana and other environmental groups for stronger rules on harmful fisheries subsidies. A strong agreement on fisheries subsidies would be a very significant accomplishment for the Doha Development Round."

"In addition to fisheries subsidies, we are also working hard on other key trade and environment issues. In particular, we are pushing for increased market access for environmental goods and services. This offers real promise for delivering benefits for environmental protection abroad by reducing the costs of preventing pollution and cleaning up the environment."


Background

While the focus of the Doha Development Agenda (DDA) has been on market access issues, other negotiating areas, such as fisheries subsidies, also offer opportunities for significant results that can benefit a variety of stakeholders. The world’s fishing fleets are operating at substantially higher capacity than can sustain the long-term health of global fisheries stocks. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, nearly 75% of global fisheries stocks are either overexploited, fully exploited, depleted or recovering from depletion. Global subsidy levels are estimated at between $10-15 billion annually – approximately 20-25% of the $56 billion commercial trade in fish.

The United States and like-minded WTO Members have been in the forefront of efforts to craft stronger rules to address the role of subsidies in contributing to this crisis in the world’s fisheries. At the December 2005 WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong, Ministers acknowledged broad agreement among Members that stronger fisheries subsidies rules should include a prohibition on those subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing.

The DDA includes specific negotiating mandates for negotiations both on fisheries subsidies and market access for environmental goods and services. For more information on the negotiations and U.S. proposals, please see our website, www.ustr.gov.

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