East Africa Trade Forum: Fisheries Subsidies

The meeting discussed the ongoing WTO Fisheries Subsidies Negotiations. It was based on a background note prepared by CUTS titled “WTO Negotiations on Fisheries: An Overview of Artisanal and Small-Scale Fisheries Issues in the Context of Developing and Least Developed Countries”. The note analyses the main issues pertaining to Artisanal and Small-scale fisheries in the negotiations, focusing on interests of developing and Least developing countries.

Delegates appreciated the note and discussion of the fisheries subsidies’ issue. They noted that it was timely in light of ongoing negotiations with a set timeline to be concluded by MC 12. It was emphasised that the interests of small developing countries and LDCs should be particularly taken into account for any outcome on the fisheries subsidies’ negotiations. Presently, the May text although with less brackets, still has a number of issues where there is divergence including those pertaining to Artisanal and Small-scale fisheries, as well as special and differential treatment. The latter issue is made more complex by the fact that there is no agreement on the structure of what such treatment would be, given the variance in the level of development between developing countries.

It was noted that the definition of Artisanal and small-scale fisheries will be important in determining their treatment, especially from the perspective of most small developing countries communities’ dependent on fisheries activities for their livelihoods. EAC countries and Africa in general need to harmonise their position and make a united stand in the forthcoming Ministerial meeting of July 2021 that will be dedicated to the fisheries issue.

In concluding the meeting, Delegates once again appreciated the EAC Forum initiative and undertook to share topics and issues for future consideration in the drive up to MC 12.