Swiss Minister Guy Parmelin, Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, Presents his Country’s Instrument of Acceptance of the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies to Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of WTO, at World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland Photo: WTO/LinkedIn

Nutrition Security: Switzerland is first member to formally accept new Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies –WTO

*The World Trade Organisation stresses the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies sets new binding, multilateral rules to curb harmful subsidies as a key factor in the widespread depletion of the world’s fish stocks, and ensure nutrition security

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has said Switzerland became the first member of the UN body to formally submit its acceptance of the WTO’s new Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies.

ConsumerConnect reports the Organisation said this step had paved the way for the historic agreement for ocean sustainability to enter into force.

Swiss Minister Guy Parmelin, Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, presented his country’s instrument of acceptance to Nigerian-born Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of WTO, at the informal WTO Ministerial Meeting, held on the side lines of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

Okonjo-Iweala said: “I am very grateful to Switzerland for its leadership in being the first WTO member to submit its instrument of acceptance of the historic new Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies. “Switzerland’s action will create real momentum for more WTO members to formally accept the Agreement.”

She stated “given that the landmark agreement was adopted during the 12th Ministerial Conference in 2022 held in Geneva, the location of the WTO, Switzerland is a fitting pioneer in the acceptance process, allowing the WTO to finally deliver our contribution to safeguarding global fish stocks and the livelihood and food security of millions of people worldwide.”

Parmelin, at the event, also said: “Switzerland is the first WTO member to ratify the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies.

“The prohibition of harmful marine capture subsidies is a major contribution of the multilateral trading system towards achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals.”

Adopted by consensus at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) held in Geneva on 12-17 June 2022, the WTO stated that 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.

Aside from this, the Organisation noted the Agreement recognises 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 Agreement.

“The Agreement prohibits subsidies to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and bans subsidies for fishing overfished stocks and for fishing on the unregulated high seas,” it said.

According to WTO, 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.

Acceptances from two-thirds of WTO members are needed for the Agreement to come into effect, the UN body stated.

Background to Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies

It was learnt the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, adopted at the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) June 17, 2022, marks a major step forward for ocean sustainability by prohibiting harmful fisheries subsidies, which are a key factor in the widespread depletion of the world’s fish stocks. The Agreement represents a historic achievement for the membership as the first Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target to be fully met, the first SDG target met through a multilateral agreement, the first WTO agreement to focus on the environment, the first broad, binding, multilateral agreement on ocean sustainability, and only the second agreement reached at the WTO since its inception.

Meanwhile, for the Agreement to become operational, two-thirds of members have to deposit their “instruments of acceptance” with the WTO.

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