17 November 2022, Nadi, Fiji: Following the 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) held in June of this year, the WTO Members have been discussing the implementation of the Ministerial mandates adopted at MC12.
Specifically for the fisheries subsidies work, there are two areas for the Members to implement: the first is ratification and implementation of the newly adopted Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies (FSA) and the second refers to the second wave of negotiations so as to include comprehensive disciplines on the remaining issues with the aim of making recommendations at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) as per paragraph 4 of the Ministerial Decision.
In view of this, the Pacific region is meeting for the first time since MC12 to attend the WTO High-Level Pacific Regional Event on Fisheries Subsidies in Nadi, Fiji from 16 to 18 November 2022.
The first two days of the event is a Capacity-Building Workshop for the six Pacific WTO Members (Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu) where their Senior Officials will be given a detailed understanding of the FSA from the WTO Secretariat.
The Ministerial Sessions to be held on 18 November will involve all eight Forum WTO Members (six Pacific WTO Members plus Australia and New Zealand) in which the Ministers will discuss the way forward for the Pacific region to work together in terms of FSA ratification process and implementation as well as the second wave of negotiations.
The Event will also provide an opportunity for the Pacific region to reflect on the other MC12 outcomes that make up the Geneva Package and collectively consider its priorities in the post-MC12 work, in the lead up to MC13.
The Pacific will also welcome the WTO Director General (DG) Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for her first visit to the region, where she will meet with Forum WTO Trade Ministers on 18 November during a Ministerial Roundtable.
Fiji’s Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, Tourism and Transport, Shaheen Ali at the opening of the Regional Workshop for Trade and Fisheries officials yesterday said the Pacific needs to continue the momentum from the outcomes of the MC 12.
“Five months have passed since the Ministerial Conference. The task ahead is not simple, and should not be underestimated. Thus, as part of the outcomes of this workshop, we need to arrive at clear negotiating positions. This will provide clear guidance to our Ministers who will be meeting in two days’ time. To continue making an impact on these negotiations, requires a united Pacific front”
“Let’s keep the passion and vigour with which we have been negotiating the Fisheries Subsidies Agreement thus far alive. We have to leave behind a legacy that our future generations will be proud of, and can benefit from,” said Shaheen.
DG Okonjo-Iweala’s visit also provides the opportunity for the Signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the PIFS and WTO which is being renewed for the fourth time.
Dr Filimon Manoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) acknowledged that “the Forum’s longstanding cooperation with the WTO ensures that the Pacific WTO Members benefit from regional trade-related technical assistance and capacity building activities on WTO issues that are of importance to the region and support their aspirations for social and economic development”.
Dr Manoni also reaffirmed the commitment of the Pacific Islands Forum, through its Trade Team in Suva and Geneva, to provide support to Members throughout the WTO negotiations in view of the Pacific’s priorities in the post-MC12 work.
The PIF also acknowledges the support of the Trade and Advocacy Fund 2 Plus (TAF2+) towards the participation of Geneva-based Pacific Ambassadors to the High-Level Event.
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