- China affirmed its support for World Trade Organization agreement for ocean sustainability.
- Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala received the ratification from Commerce Minister Wang Wentao at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions.
- Follow the meeting at https://wef.ch/amnc23 or on social media using #amnc23 or #2023夏季达沃斯# on Weibo and WeChat.
Tianjin, People’s Republic of China, 28 June 2023 – China, the world’s leading marine fishing producer, has formally accepted a historic trade agreement for ocean sustainability at the World Economic Forum’s 14th Annual Meeting of the New Champions.
It will help bring into force a global deal struck a year ago by the World Trade Organization’s 164 members to work towards eliminating billions of dollars in “harmful” subsidies that are emptying the oceans of fish. The agreement prohibits support for illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, bans support for fishing overfished stocks and ends subsidies for fishing on the unregulated high seas. The World Economic Forum, through the Friends of Ocean Action, has been a long-term supporter of the global agreement along with businesses, ocean experts and civil society organizations.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General, World Trade Organization, received the document from Wang Wentao, Minister of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China, at the World Economic Forum’s 14th Annual Meeting of the New Champions. With an estimated 564,000 ships, China in 2020 had the biggest fishing fleet in the world, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
“As the world leader in marine fish catch, China’s support for the implementation of this agreement is critical to multilateral efforts to safeguard oceans, food security and livelihoods. By curbing harmful fishing subsidies worldwide, we can together forge a path towards a legacy of abundance and opportunity for generations to come,” said Okonjo-Iweala.
Under trade rules, two-thirds of the WTO’s 164 members must ratify the deal for it to take effect. China’s support now means that 36 countries, including all European Union members, have formally accepted it, and the aim is to have the remaining countries do the same before the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference in February next year. Members have also committed to continuing negotiations to expand the scope to include subsidies that support excessive fishing.
“The Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies is the second multilateral agreement reached by the WTO since its establishment in 1995, and the first WTO agreement aimed at achieving the goal of environmental sustainable development,” said Minister Wang. “It is a significant agreement to boost the confidence of all members in multilateralism. China has completed the approval procedure of the agreement and will work with all members to push the agreement to enter into force before the 13th WTO Ministerial Conference. At the same time, China will participate in the second phase of negotiations in a positive and constructive manner and look forward to an early outcome of the negotiations.”
Børge Brende, President, World Economic Forum, said that China’s ratification of the agreement was an important indication of the strength of multistakeholder and multilateral cooperation.
“Global challenges like ocean sustainability need global solutions. The Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies shows that governments can work in common purpose for the benefit of communities, economies and the world at large.”
The news follows the UN adoption of a world-first high seas treaty protecting marine biodiversity.
Peter Thomson, UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean and co-chair of the Friends of Ocean Action, said that restoring the ocean’s health is a key part of combatting global warming.
“Restoring ocean health enables people everywhere to thrive and ensures we leave a liveable planet for generations to come. I sincerely hope China’s support for the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies will now open the flood gates for other countries to deposit their instruments of national acceptance. Through this historic agreement, we have a real chance to make lasting, positive changes to protect the ocean and everyone who depends on it.”
The full text of the agreement can be accessed here. The list of members that have submitted their acceptance of the agreement is available here.
About the Annual Meeting of the New Champions
The Annual Meeting of the New Champions (AMNC) takes place 27-29 June in Tianjin, People’s Republic of China, under the theme “Entrepreneurship: The Driving Force of the Global Economy.” The meeting will renew momentum for innovation and entrepreneurship to drive growth and a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient global economy.
The World Economic Forum, committed to improving the state of the world, is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. (www.weforum.org).