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'India's statement delivered at the HOD+1 level meeting of the NGR on fisheries subsidies negotiations held on 02 November 2020'

Statement delivered by Ambassador & PR at the HOD+1 level meeting of the NGR on fisheries subsidies negotiations held on 02 November 2020

Good morning Chair and Colleagues,

1. We thank you, Mr Chairman for convening this meeting and to compliment you and your team for presenting the first revision of the draft consolidated text. We note that the revised text will be used for future discussions, without prejudice to any Member’s position.

2. Chair, we would also like to reiterate some of the issues which we consider are necessary for these negotiations to reach a conclusion. The objective of these negotiations is to discipline subsidies with the overall objective to have Sustainable fishing and to curb IUU fishing. As per the Leaders’ MC 11 mandate, while we are engaged in these negotiations for comprehensive disciplines on fisheries subsidies, we have to recognize that appropriate and effective special and differential treatment for developing and least developed countries must be an integral part of these negotiations.

3. Chair, all of us agree that these negotiations are aimed at sustainability aspects rather than that of trade. Therefore, India believes that the concept of polluter pays principle must be made applicable for Sustainable fishing and taking forward these negotiations. Those who have provided huge subsidies for unsustainable fishing should first take the responsibility in substantially reducing the huge harmful subsidies leading to Overcapacity and Overfishing. In the name of unsustainable fishing, the unnecessary burden should not be imposed on developing countries and LDCs who provide minuscule or do not provide any subsidies for fishing. There is no merit in comparing millions of subsidies given in past or being given presently for industrial fishing with minuscule subsidies of few dollars given for sustenance of livelihood and food security to our small fishermen and women. India reiterates that asymmetries in earlier agreements such as those in the Agreement on Agriculture should not be repeated in this Agreement on Fisheries.

4. Chair, we would like to remind the Membership that Special and Differential Treatment for Developing Countries and LDCs is an integral and very important part of the instrument / Agreement being negotiated. We thank you and the Secretariat for organizing a meeting with Ambassador Didier Chambovey, the Friend of the Chair on S&DT. We have conveyed our views to Ambassador Chambovey and look forward to further discussion with him. Based on these discussions, we are sure that the S&DT proposed in the three pillars of these negotiations in the Chair’s text will be carried forward in the final outcome. We will also emphasize particularly that specific text should be added in the place holder for a transition period for U and U in Article 3.9 (b) of Chair’s text. We are of the firm view that the S&DT in any final outcome has to be effective and appropriate having regard to the development needs, livelihood and food security concerns of developing countries and LDCs as well as having regard to their capacity to put in place effective mechanism to deal with IUU and appropriate conservation and management measures.

5. One of the important issue which we have been reiterating time and again and also recognised in your communication of 26 October 2020 is the continued challenges in many countries on account of an increasing number of COVID-19 cases because of the second wave of the COVID -19 pandemic. We must be aware of the new restrictions/lockdowns being imposed in various parts of the world. Such a situation makes it very difficult to have co-ordination with the capital-based experts and also even in the capital, amongst various departments, and with various provincial governments involved in these negotiations. During the present cluster, while we may have bilaterals in virtual mode, it could be difficult to have plenary sessions in virtual mode. You may like to reconsider this. At the same time, we also recognise that there are divergent views on various parts of the instrument/ discipline we are negotiating. We have to deliberate and consider the new revised consolidated text, wherein many amendments and insertions have been made. The process going forward has to remain fair, inclusive and transparent. Hence, we see a formidable challenge to conclude these negotiations by December 2020, in spite of our sincere efforts.

6. Chair, I would like to conclude by saying that India will continue to actively participate in the negotiations and you can count on us for taking the process further.

7. Thank you, Chair