Negotiations on Fisheries Subsidies: Improving Transparency

Organised by
24 September 2018
Geneva, Switzerland

This seminar provided an opportunity for WTO negotiators to reflect on inputs from experts and engage in informal dialogue around questions related to transparency and notification requirements in possible new WTO rules on fisheries subsidies.

The dialogue explored how WTO disciplines on fisheries subsidies could help improve the transparency of fisheries subsidies, an area where government support has historically been very opaque, in particular through notification by WTO member states.

Presentations examined how data already collected by international organisations, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in particular, could be relevant with regard to the proposed notification requirements included in the current negotiating text at the WTO. Specifically, the FAO already collects and makes available data on indicators such as the status of fish stocks, fleet capacity, catch, and imports and exports of fisheries products – although there are some limitations to this data that were underlined during the seminar. Discussions highlighted the potential usefulness of this data in the notification and monitoring process of a future WTO agreement on fisheries subsidies. They also identified the need to minimise duplication of data collection and reporting efforts between what is required at the WTO and elsewhere.

The seminar further addressed specific legal questions related to transparency and notification requirements in possible WTO rules on fisheries subsidies. In particular, presentations shed light on the potential challenges that notifying fisheries subsidies could pose, as well as a number of key considerations WTO members will need to take into account as they craft new WTO disciplines in this area. This includes the scope of notifications, their frequency, potential sanctions or incentives, as well as the kind of technical assistance and capacity-building that may be needed.

Main takeaways

  • Data collected by other international organizations, and in particular the FAO, could be particularly useful for the notification and monitoring process of a possible WTO agreement on fisheries subsidies.
  • Key considerations that WTO members need to take into account when addressing transparency and notification requirements in WTO rules include the scope of notifications, their timing, potential sanctions or incentives, as well as technical assistance and capacity-building.

The event built on previous ICTSD dialogues and research on these topics, in particular ICTSD’s recent publication Fisheries Subsidies Rules at the WTO: A Compilation of Evidence and Analysis and the policy brief Building Comprehensive and Effective WTO Rules on Fisheries Subsidies.

The meeting is part of the first set of dialogues of the ICTSD initiative WTO: Paths Forward. Building on the outcomes of the 11th Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires, this initiative will provide a platform to exchange perspectives and in-depth analysis on possible options for WTO-based processes going forward and into the 12th Ministerial Conference.

Alice Tipping is a Programme Manager and leads the ICTSD’s Environment and Natural Resources programme.

Prior to joining the ICTSD, she worked as a diplomat and legal adviser in the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. She has served in New Zealand’s Mission to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva, where she covered negotiations on trade remedies, including fisheries subsidies, trade and the environment and the WTO’s dispute settlement system.

She has also served in New Zealand’s Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, covering several UN specialised agencies and environmental issues.

Ms Tipping has also worked as a research and strategy analyst in foreign direct investment promotion.

She holds an MPhil in International Relations from Cambridge University. She also holds a Bachelor of Laws degree and a Bachelor of Commerce degree, with a major in Economics, from Victoria University of Wellington. Alice is citizen of the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Christophe BELLMANN is a Senior Resident Research Associate at ICTSD with more than 20 years of experience working on international trade negotiations and policy making from a sustainable development perspective. Mr. Bellmann joined ICTSD in 1998, first as Programme Officer for Outreach and Partnership, then as Director of Policy Dialogues and since 2002, as Programmes Director. Before joining our Organisation, Mr. Bellmann worked for the Swiss Coalition of Development Organisations (SCDO) where he was responsible for activities on multilateral trade and sustainable development issues. Mr. Bellmann has also worked as a Research Associate at the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in Santiago, Chile, on the relationship between trade and the environment.

Mr. Bellmann has edited and published a wide range of books, articles and opinion pieces in English, French and Spanish on trade and sustainable development. His work focuses on international trade negotiations, development policies and environmental governance in areas such as agriculture and food security, fisheries, tariffs and non-tariff barriers, rules, regional trade, services and intellectual property rights, He holds an MA in International Relations from the Graduate Institute for International Studies in Geneva. Mr. Bellmann is a citizen of Switzerland.



Marc Taconet

Branch Head, Fisheries and Aquaculture Information and Statistics Service, FAO

Charles Julien is counsel in White & Case International Trade Practice Group and is based in the Geneva office. He advises clients on a wide range of international trade and customs matters including trade remedy proceedings, international disputes and trade and investment negotiations and has particular experience in the Middle East and North Africa and in the European Union.

Mr. Julien has extended experience on trade remedy issues. Over the last 20 years, he has represented foreign producers, exporters, importers and governments in over 150 anti-dumping, countervailing and safeguard investigations in more than 15 countries. He has also assisted governments with the drafting of their trade remedy laws and in establishing or restructuring investigating authorities. Furthermore, he has developed advanced trade-remedy risk mitigating strategies and subsidy assessment programs.

Mr. Julien also has wide-ranging expertise on international trade and investment related matters. He supported governments in their accession negotiations to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and in preferential trade agreement negotiations; in implementing the WTO Agreements and other international trade agreements and has represented governments in WTO dispute settlement proceedings. In addition, he has advised trade associations and companies on the consistency of government measures with the WTO Agreements and other international trade and investment agreements and used the latter to increase market access opportunities.

Mr. Julien has extensive experience on EU customs law. He supported industry associations in obtaining significant tariff suspensions and quotas in the EU and Turkey and assisted private clients with classification, valuation, rules of origin and labelling issues.

Prior to joining White & Case, Mr. Julien was Counsel with an international law firm in Geneva. Prior to that, he was Legal Counsel with the Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry. He represented Egypt in the Doha Development Agenda negotiations, including in the fisheries negotiations, and in numerous free trade agreement negotiations. He was also involved in defining the Egyptian trade policy and in the drafting of Egyptian trade remedy regulations. Furthermore, he was responsible for overseeing all trade remedy proceedings conducted by Egypt and coordinating the defence of Egyptian trade interests in foreign proceedings. Previously, Mr. Julien worked for a major European trade law firm in Brussels and Geneva and in the French Mission to the WTO in Geneva.

Mr. Julien is a regular speaker at conferences on international trade and customs law was lecturing on international trade law at the American University in Cairo.