SWITZERLAND / BELGIUM – The European Union is contributing EUR 1 million (about CHF 957,000) in a multi-year donation to the WTO Fisheries Funding Mechanism to assist developing members and least-developed members in implementing the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies. Ambassador João Aguiar Machado presented the contribution to WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on 23 November 2023.
The EU’s donation brings the total contribution to date from the EU and its member states to EUR 7.5 million. This includes donations of EUR 1 million from France, EUR 2 million from Germany, EUR 1 million from the Netherlands, EUR 2 million from Spain and EUR 500,000 from Sweden. Other member states are considering or working towards additional donations.
Director-General Okonjo-Iweala, said:
“I am deeply appreciative to the European Union for its generous donation to the Fisheries Funding Mechanism. This contribution, which complements earlier donations by individual EU member states as well as other WTO members, will go a long way towards broadening the reach of global efforts to make marine fisheries sustainable. Furthermore, the EU’s support comes at a vital moment in the push for entry into force of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies.”
The fund is operated by the WTO with partner organizations, namely the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Bank Group, which bring to bear relevant expertise and allow the WTO to leverage its own expertise.
Ambassador Aguiar Machado, said:
“For the EU, the WTO’s Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies (AFS) is a significant step forward in the protection of the health of our oceans as well as a positive indicator of the health of the WTO’s ability to negotiate multilateral rules to respond to global challenges. For both reasons, the Agreement must be properly implemented and the EU’s contribution of EUR 1 million to the Fund is a signal of our commitment to that objective, along with our own early ratification and our engagement in the negotiations to complete the second phase negotiations by the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13). We urge all members to ratify the AFS as soon as possible to allow it to enter into force when ministers meet in Abu Dhabi in February.”
The Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies will enter into force upon acceptance of its legal instrument by two-thirds of the membership. Nearly half of what is needed for the Agreement to come into effect is already in hand.
Because the new Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies will involve adjustments and enhancements to WTO members’ legislative and administrative frameworks, their transparency and notification obligations, and their fisheries management policies and practices, Article 7 of the Agreement provides for the creation of a voluntary funding mechanism to provide targeted technical assistance and capacity building to help developing and least-developed country members with implementation.
More information on the fund, which became operational on 8 November, is available here. Including the most recent donation, the EU’s total contribution to the various WTO trust funds from 2003 to 2023 is CHF 32,504,606.