India’s fishing subsidy win at WTO the start of a long fight

  • The small print of the fisheries agreement suggests the matter will need further negotiations

Dilasha Seth
Updated20 Jun 2022, 07:15 AM IST
At the WTO meeting, India had sought a 25-year transition period as the sector needs support in developing nations to protect the livelihoods of low-income fishermen. afp
At the WTO meeting, India had sought a 25-year transition period as the sector needs support in developing nations to protect the livelihoods of low-income fishermen. afp

India’s successful defence of the rights of developing countries to subsidise their fisheries at the World Trade Organization’s ministerial conference signals the start of a long battle ahead.

The small print of the fisheries agreement suggests the matter will require further negotiations to secure the right to subsidise. The pact says that members will need to come out with comprehensive disciplines within the next four years, or see the current agreement terminated.

“If comprehensive disciplines are not adopted within four years of the entry into force of this Agreement, and unless otherwise decided by the (WTO) General Council, this Agreement shall stand immediately terminated,” said article 12 of the agreement on fisheries subsidies.

During the negotiations at last week’s ministerial meeting in Geneva, India strongly opposed the article in the draft that required developing countries to do away with subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity within 7 years of the agreement coming into effect, or up to 2030.

Instead, India sought a 25-year transition period as the sector still requires support in developing countries to protect the livelihoods of low-income fishermen. These subsidies include the ones given for construction, acquisition, modernisation or upgrade of vessels; purchase of machines and equipment for vessels including fishing gear and engine, refrigerators; and for insurance and social charges.

However, as talks reached a deadlock last week, the provision cited above was removed from the text and will now need to be negotiated afresh within four years. However, subsidies on overfishing, deep sea fishing, and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing have been covered in the current pact.

India was also pressing for disciplines on subsidies given by developed countries with large industrial fleets in the form of non-specific fuel subsidies, which account for 22% of total fisheries subsidies. However, the text completely excludes these subsidies from the pact, allowing countries to continue with these.

Experts argue that the “termination of agreement” clause of future will ensure that developing countries will continue to face pressure from rich countries to end subsidies that contribute to overfishing and overcapacity such as those given to buy vessels, refrigerators, expanding vessels, and upgrading vessels.

Some experts believe that developing countries will need a stronger negotiating position to get what they want on fisheries subsidies, as otherwise the entire agreement will expire. However, others felt the pressure on developing countries will mount to accept a deal without any special and differential treatment that gives developing countries more flexibility in trade rules and disciplines than rich nations as otherwise India would risk being labelled a deal blocker as an agreement that took 21 years to negotiate will collapse.

Biswajit Dhar, professor, Jawaharlal Nehru University, said there will be intense pressure to develop comprehensive disciplines within four years, else the 21 years of negotiations would go waste. “There will be an additional set of pressures on India as it would have to get provisions on special and differential treatment included in the agreement, which would not exist after two years.”

Ranja Sengupta of Third World Network said that India lost out on the opportunity to get developed subsidizing countries with industrial fishing fleets to face disciplines.

India gives a subsidy of only $15 per fisherman per year, while the corresponding amounts for Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands are $42,000, $65,000, and $75,000.

Catch all the Business News, Market News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on Live Mint. Download The Mint News App to get Daily Market Updates.MoreLess
First Published:20 Jun 2022, 07:15 AM IST
HomeEconomyIndia’s fishing subsidy win at WTO the start of a long fight

Most Active Stocks

Tata Steel

168.00
03:59 PM | 10 JUL 2024
-3.8 (-2.21%)

Indian Oil Corporation

171.95
03:59 PM | 10 JUL 2024
0.25 (0.15%)

Bharat Electronics

333.70
03:58 PM | 10 JUL 2024
-0.85 (-0.25%)

Ashok Leyland

225.95
03:52 PM | 10 JUL 2024
-2.4 (-1.05%)
More Active Stocks

Market Snapshot

  • Top Gainers
  • Top Losers
  • 52 Week High

Capri Global Capital

225.65
03:49 PM | 10 JUL 2024
11.15 (5.2%)

Vardhaman Textiles

532.60
03:47 PM | 10 JUL 2024
26 (5.13%)

India Cements

295.50
03:29 PM | 10 JUL 2024
13.85 (4.92%)

NLC India

276.40
03:59 PM | 10 JUL 2024
12.9 (4.9%)
More from Top Gainers

Recommended For You

    More Recommendations

    Gold Prices

    • 24K
    • 22K

    Fuel Price

    • Petrol
    • Diesel
    OPEN IN APP
    HomeMarketsPremiumInstant LoanMint Shorts