• At Geneva, WTO members are seeking to reach an agreement on prohibiting ‘harmful’ fisheries subsidies estimated at $14 billion-$20.5 billion annually that lead to overfishing and depletion of fish stocks worldwide.
• Negotiations’ objective is to discipline subsidies and have sustainable fishing to curb IUU (illegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing.
• Negotiations were first launched in 2001 at the Doha Ministerial Conference.
• However, deadlock has occurred over the issue of special and differential treatment concessions for developing countries on fisheries subsidies.
• Special and differential treatment provides several flexibilities for developing countries, such as longer time periods for implementing agreements and commitments, lower levels of commitment and measures to increase trading opportunities.
• Developed countries argue special and differential treatment should not be provided to all developing countries and least developed countries (LDCs) but should be allowed following a needs-based approach.
• Developing countries including India stated that as per UN Sustainable Development Goals, effective S&DT is an integral part of WTO fisheries subsidies negotiation.
• Earlier, India had proposed that developing countries with gross national incomes below $5,000 per annum should be exempted from the need to take on commitments for fishery subsidy cuts.
Mains Paper 2: International Relations
Prelims level: Special and differential treatment
Mains level: Key highlights of the negotiations on curbing fisheries subsidies face deadlock