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Kingdom in talks for WTO fisheries subsidies pact

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Cambodia seeks to ensure that the provisions of the latest version of the WTO draft agreement on fisheries subsidies adequately support growth in the Kingdom’s fisheries sector and drive exports. Hong Menea

Kingdom in talks for WTO fisheries subsidies pact

Officials at Cambodia’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) mission in Geneva, Switzerland are negotiating a draft agreement on fisheries subsidies with counterparts from around the world.

Based on the mandate laid out in Goal 14.6 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, negotiators are tasked with securing agreement on disciplines to reallocate subsidies so as to reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, overcapacity and overfishing, with a strong emphasis on vulnerable species, ambassador Long Kemvichet explained.

The Cambodian mission seeks to ensure that the provisions of the latest version of the agreement nonetheless adequately support growth in the Kingdom’s fisheries sector and drive exports, he told a virtual briefing.

Negotiations on fisheries subsidies disciplines began at the WTO in 2001, and resolving the remaining differences are key to achieving success at the UN agency’s upcoming 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), which was rescheduled from December 2021 to an as-of-yet undetermined date later this year, he underlined.

Colombia’s WTO ambassador Santiago Wills, chair of the fisheries subsidies talks, submitted the previous version of the draft agreement to ministers on November 24, the UN agency said in a statement, noting that provisions in the text remain open for discussion.

Kemvichet issued a general call for relevant officials to work well with the mission on these and other negotiations at the WTO and similar organisations, including on topics such as small- and medium-sized enterprises, the environment, agriculture and investment, “which require internal coordination among relevant ministries to take full advantage for the nation”.

The Post could not reach Pum Sotha, director of the Fisheries Administration under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, for comment by press time.

Royal Academy of Cambodia economics researcher Ky Sereyvath told The Post that the draft agreement on fisheries subsidies is designed to encourage Cambodians to export more fish to WTO member countries.

The economist believes that the agreement will guide government subsidy policies and programmes to allow fish production and conservation to flourish, and alleviate poverty.

He noted that the bulk of fisheries subsidies end up going to tycoons with improved breeding protocols, and that small-scale operations that follow more conventional practices tend to be less productive.

To counter this tendency, Sereyvath suggested the government provide technical training to farmers, which he said would spur fisheries exports.

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