18 April 2023
Canadian Custom Brokerage

United States formally accepts Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies

The United States deposited its instrument of acceptance for the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies on 11 April, making it the fourth WTO member, and the first among the large fishing nations, to do so. The formal acceptance by the United States marks a pivotal moment for the approaching entry into force of the landmark agreement for ocean sustainability, said Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as she received the instrument from U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai in Washington, D.C. Acceptances from two-thirds of WTO members are needed for the Agreement to come into effect.

DG Okonjo-Iweala said: “I am delighted and grateful to receive the United States’ formal acceptance of the WTO’s Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies. This strong show of support by the United States for the WTO’s work toward ocean sustainability marks a pivotal increase in momentum among the membership to ensure this landmark agreement enters into force. US leadership is vital to the WTO and to multilateralism. I look forward to continuing to work with the United States to ensure that the WTO responds to the needs of people and the planet.”

United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai said: “The United States has been a leader in protecting our shared environment from harmful and unsustainable practices, including our oceans and marine resources — and those whose livelihoods depend on them.”

“We are proud to be among the first WTO members to accept this agreement, which is the first ever multilateral trade agreement with environmental sustainability at its core.  It will help improve the lives of fishers and workers here in the United States and elsewhere, and we look forward to building on this agreement with other WTO members,” Ambassador Tai said.

Adopted by consensus at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) held in Geneva on 12-17 June 2022, the  Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies sets new binding, multilateral rules to curb harmful subsidies, which are a key factor in the widespread depletion of the world’s fish stocks.  In addition, the Agreement recognizes the needs of developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) and establishes a Fund to provide technical assistance and capacity building to help them implement the obligations.

The Agreement prohibits support for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, bans support for fishing overfished stocks, and ends subsidies for fishing on the unregulated high seas. Members also agreed at MC12 to continue negotiations on outstanding issues, with a view to making recommendations by MC13 for additional provisions that would further enhance the disciplines of the Agreement.

The full text of the Agreement can be accessed here. The list of members that have submitted their acceptance of the Agreement is available here.

Information for members on how to accept the Protocol of Amendment is available here.

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