Statement of India at Rules Negotiating Group - HODs on 28 November, 2019.

As Delivered

Rules Negotiating Group – HODs, 28 November, 2019

Statement of India

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Thank you, Santiago, for convening this meeting to apprise us of the developments in the fisheries subsidies negotiations and seeking our inputs on specific issues.

2. I would like to place on record our appreciation for the hard work done by all the six facilitators for trying to bring in clarity and possible convergence in the negotiations.

3. Chair, I understand from your statement today that the outcome for General Council in December 2019 could include a working text in some areas (IUU & Overfished stocks) to be produced by the facilitators which would reflect the progress in the negotiations and a consolidated text will be developed in due course. We also believe that Members will have opportunity to provide further inputs into these documents, either bringing in elements from the document 274/Rev6, which our Ministers endorsed in Buenos Aires, the submissions made thereafter or through any new proposal for bridging the gaps.

4. While negotiating the disciplines, we must be mindful of the mandates of SDG 14.6 and the MC11 decision on fisheries, both of which clearly state that there should be appropriate and effective special & differential treatment for developing countries. These mandates need to be implemented. We are concerned that there has been little discussion on the S&DT proposals under different pillars of the discipline. We suggest that S&DT elements under each pillar should be discussed simultaneously with other elements of the discipline from the December cluster onwards.

5. Chair, coming to the specific issues raised in your communication:

  1. We agree that the “scope” should be “wild marine capture fisheries” leaving aquaculture and inland fisheries out. However, we should be mindful that the discipline should apply to fisheries and fisheries related activities at sea only and should not be extended to activities on land.
  2. On your second question related to definition of subsidies and the specificity element, we re-iterate our position that the mandate for the present negotiations is to eliminate harmful subsidies. One dollar subsidy, whether horizontal or specific, will have the same adverse effect on fish stock. Disciplines only on specific fuel subsidies will lead to a low ambition outcome as a large portion of operating cost subsidies will be left out of the disciplines.
  3. On the question related to the scope of Governmental measures, I would like to state that some of the governmental measures should be explicitly excluded from prohibition under overfishing and overcapacity. They could include measures related to disaster relief, livelihood support to fishermen during fishing ban period, insurance for fishermen, subsidies to improve hygiene on board, health and safety of fishermen, subsidies for vessel monitoring system and installation of safety related equipment on vessels. In addition, there can be a narrow list of subsidies such as those related to fisheries management system, research and development, which can be kept out of the prohibitions, subject to adequate conditions to prevent any circumvention of the discipline. Any such exemption list should, however, be short and precise.
  4. So far as application of S&DT is concerned, we would like to state that as per the SDG 14.6 mandate and MC11 Decision, Special and Differential treatment has to be an integral part of the discipline for developing countries including LDCs.
  5. On the architecture of the agreement, our answer is in the affirmative. We do not envisage an option other than the two outlined. However, we should be mindful of the fact that the disciplines on fisheries subsidies being crafted are linked to sustainability and are unique to WTO. Hence, for ease of its implementation as well as to convey a positive political message, we support a standalone agreement.

6. On the procedural issues suggested by the Chair, we agree with the scheduling of the six fisheries clusters from January to May 2020 and the Senior officers meeting around Easter.  

7. My delegation remains open to participate in future negotiations constructively in any format. 

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