WTO/Bryan Lehmann

Int'l - After 20 years, talks on scrapping fishing subsidies enter final stretch

The World Trade Organization is nearing a deal to end harmful fishing subsidies, but exemptions for developing countries could give China a pass

After 20 years, global talks over reducing environmentally damaging fishing subsidies are entering their final stage at the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

On Thursday, 104 ministers and heads of delegation met virtually and gave a conditional blessing to the text of an agreement to remove harmful fishing subsidies.

This means delegations can now negotiate the nine-page draft text line by line for approval at the WTO ministerial conference in Kazakhstan, which starts on 30 November.

The talks aim to eliminate harmful subsidies such as for overfishing and for illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

WTO director-general Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told a Geneva press conference: “For the first time in 20 years, we have a text which has been blessed by all the ministers and heads of delegations.”

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