CASTRIES, St Lucia, (OECS) – With the support of the Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew) and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission will be convening a high-level workshop on the ongoing World Trade Organization (WTO) fisheries subsidies negotiations on February 24-25, 2021.
This Workshop is being targeted at senior trade, foreign affairs, fisheries, maritime affairs and other relevant officials in Member States.
WTO members are under a mandate to reach an agreement to end harmful fisheries subsidies by the next meeting of the ministerial conference, the Organization’s top-level decision-making body. The next meeting of the ministerial conference is expected to be convened before the end of 2021. The fisheries subsidies mandate aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.6 which tasks the WTO with reaching an agreement to end harmful fisheries subsidies.
The objectives of the high-level Workshop are to:
- Update OECS Member States on the status of the WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations;
- Understand the extent of global and OECS subsidy spending;
- Analyze the current draft fisheries subsidies negotiating text;
- Deep dive into the areas of contention in the text for the OECS; and
- Understand how a strong subsidies agreement can be used to advance OECS fisheries sustainability goals.
Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, chair of the WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations, will deliver the keynote address. Jacqueline Emmanuel-Flood, director of the economic and regional integration division of the commission, as well as representatives of Pew and the IISD will also address the opening session.
The Workshop will also benefit from expert insights and analyses from staff of the OECS Geneva Mission, the World Bank, Pew, the IISD, the CARICOM Secretariat, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and other international and regional partners.
According to H.E. ambassador Stephen Fevrier at the OECS Geneva Mission:
“The fisheries sector plays an important role in the economies of OECS Member States, providing both full-time, part-time and seasonal employment, contributing significantly both to domestic food security and national Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In this context, it is important to build knowledge, institutional and other capacities among OECS Member States to ensure that we are well-positioned to secure a favourable outcome in the WTO fisheries subsidies negotiations. Such an outcome will allow us to meet the goal of sustainability of our fisheries resources, while also providing the necessary policy space to further develop the sector commercially.”
The high-level workshop will take place virtually in light of the current travel and other restrictions imposed by the novel coronavirus pandemic.