WTO MC12 Day 1: Fishing subsidies to food crisis, here’s what was discussed

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WTO MC12 Day 1: Fishing subsidies to food crisis, here’s what was discussed

The WTO chief acknowledged that the global trade body needs reform, adding that the road will be bumpy and rocky and ‘there may be a few landmines’

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WTO ministerial meet | Piyush Goyal | WTO fishery subsidies

BS Web Team  | 
New Delhi 

Last Updated at June 13, 2022 09:16 IST

The World Trade Organization’s 12th ministerial conference (WTO MC12) kick-started on Sunday in Switzerland’s Geneva with issues such as global food security in the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war, overfishing of the world’s seas and pandemic preparedness on the agenda.

Here’s all that happened on Day 1 of the WTO ministerial conference:

WTO chief warns of bumpy and rocky road

WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, before the opening of the 12th ministerial conference (MC), said that she hopes the meeting involving ministers from more than 120 countries yields progress toward reducing inequality and ensuring fair and free trade.

Amid a shortage of foodgrains, skyrocketing crude prices and soaring inflation, WTO DG Okonjo-Iweala asked member nations not to ‘underestimate’ the impact of export restrictions as such measures, when implemented by countries, can exacerbate the ongoing global food crisis.

The WTO chief acknowledged that the global trade body needs reform, adding that the road will be bumpy and rocky and ‘there may be a few landmines.’

Piyush Goyal backs people’s first approach

Union Minister of Commerce Piyush Goyal at WTO MC12 said the meeting must send a strong message that the wealthy care for the poor. Lashing out at rich nations while speaking at the plenary session of the MC12, Goyal said they need to ‘introspect’ for letting down the poor and developing countries amid a lack of consensus on the issue of the Covid vaccine equity.

“The pandemic reinforced the importance of ‘One Earth One Health,’ calling for global solidarity and collective action. My country ramped up supplies of medical products to provide medical and health items globally. Unfortunately, the WTO could not respond with alacrity,” Goyal said.

Curb on fishing subsidies

The WTO has proposed to curb fishing subsidies that specify a seven-year transition period for developing nations to exempt some developing countries from subsidy cuts. The proposal is not in line with India’s demand as New Delhi has proposed a transition period of 25 years. India’s official statement on the proposal said, “India’s priority is safeguarding the long-term interests of farmers and fishermen. We will continue to be the voice of developing and less-developed countries and work for fair outcomes.”

WTO’s proposal has also received criticism from the Indian fishing community, who assembled outside the United Nations Office in Geneva and protested against the proposed cut. Indian fishermen explained how huge fishing giants from Europe and China are responsible for the depletion of marine resources and added that they need this subsidy for survival.

The global trade body is looking to build a consensus on an agreement to “eliminate subsidies for illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing, and promote sustainable fishing”. Piyush Goyal, backing fishing subsidies, at the WTO meet, said, “For food security and eradication of hunger, sustainable fishing is as important as agriculture, which is an important SDG goal.”

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