SCIO press conference on WTO's eighth trade policy review of China

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CNR Business Radio:

The WTO's 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) will be held about one month later, with fisheries subsidies being a key issue. How is the progress of negotiation? What efforts has China made for the 12th Ministerial Conference to reach an outcome on the issue? Thank you.

Yan Dong:

Thank you for your question. Fisheries subsidies negotiations have long attracted extensive attention. It is one of the objectives of the WTO Agreement to achieve mutual support between trade policies and environmental protection policies and promote sustainable development. To this end, WTO members launched the Doha Round of negotiations in 2001, with fisheries subsidies as one of the negotiated issues.

The fisheries subsidies negotiations aim to formulate new subsidy rules, restrict harmful fisheries subsidies, combat illegal fishing, curb overfishing, and help the sustainable development of marine fishery resources. However, subjected to the overall progress of the Doha round of trade talks and coupled with the large differences in the development stages of each member and different interest demands and different resource endowments, the fisheries subsidies negotiations are still ongoing. So far, the negotiations have lasted for 20 years. In 2015, the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in which Goal 14.6 set out the goal of integrating fisheries negotiations by 2020. In 2017, the 11th WTO Ministerial Conference reiterated the mandate and goals of the fisheries subsidies negotiations. At present, all parties have agreed to conclude the negotiations before the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference to be held at the end of November.

Reaching an agreement on fisheries subsidies will be an important aspect for the WTO to contribute to the realization of the United Nations' 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which is conducive to the sustainable development of marine fisheries and is also of great significance to strengthening global confidence in the WTO and reviving multilateralism.

At present, the fisheries subsidies negotiations are in the final sprint stage. China has always actively participated in the negotiations, "promoting talks, promoting reconciling, and promoting facilitating," and has successively put forward a number of proposals in the negotiations and jointly promoted the negotiations of fisheries subsidies with all parties to reach an agreement as soon as possible. As a developing country and a major fishery country, China will undertake international obligations in the negotiations that are commensurate with its own development stage and capabilities.

In addition, from a domestic perspective, China has taken the initiative to implement the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and adjusted domestic fishery management and subsidies policies. For example, we implement total control on the production capacity of fishing vessels and the amount of fishing; we have also taken the initiative to adopt resource conservation measures such as the summer fishing moratorium and the voluntary moratorium on the high seas; we comprehensively strengthen the implementation of international protocols for offshore fisheries; and we severely crack down on illegal fishing with a "zero tolerance" attitude. Meanwhile, we continue to adjust the fisheries subsidies policies. In May this year, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China issued a notice on implementing support policies for fisheries development to promote high-quality development of fisheries. This document clearly states that it shall "conform to the general trend of WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations, and promote high-quality and sustainable development of fisheries." One of the major policy highlights of this document is to cancel fuel cost subsidies, change the direction of subsidies, guide fishermen to conserve fishery resources, place more emphasis on green development, ensure people's livelihoods and resource conservation, and promote high-quality fishery development.

China firmly supports the multilateral trading system and the completion of fisheries subsidies negotiations as soon as possible before the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference. As a responsible major fishery country, China will continue to take concrete actions to support the prohibition of harmful fishery subsidies that lead to excess production capacity and overfishing. Thank you.

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