China out of India’s proposal to protect small fishermen at WTO talks

NEW DELHI: India’s latest proposal on capping fisheries subsidies at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) keeps China out of the list of developing countries which are exempt from the prohibition of subsidies to large fishing vessels. As per the proposal, a developing country is not eligible for the exemption if its GNI per capita crosses $5,000 for three consecutive years, has above 2% share in global marine capture, and the share of agriculture, forestry and fishing sectors is less than 10% of its GDP. It should also be engaging in distant water fishing.

“There has not been much discussion on the paper but some elements are part of the consolidated text that has been shared with all members,” said an official.

India’s proposal is significant as it provides a cushion from taking any commitments in fishing done in the territorial waters up to 12 nautical miles.

As per the official, China does not meet any criteria to qualify for the exemption.

“It is a carefully drafted proposal as it does not impinge on the rights of our nine coastal states,” the official added.

India has also proposed, for certain cases, transition periods for developing countries and LDCs before certain subsidy prohibitions kick in as such provisions are needed to sustain the livelihood and food security needs of small-scale fishers.

A transition period of two years to withdraw or modify any subsidy for fish stocks that have been declared as overfished by the national authorities based on the best scientific evidence available to such members, according to the proposal.

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