Commenting on the negotiations on fisheries subsidies, the Director-General said:
” These negotiations are technically complicated and there are many different views on how to deliver a result. What is clear is that this work matters for the world’s fish stocks and fishing communities, it matters for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and it matters for the WTO itself. So I agree with the Chair of the negotiations, Ambassador Zapata, that the time has come for the Heads of Delegations to become substantively engaged. This is important both to raise the political level and therefore the urgency of the work, and to bring their higher-level perspective to bear in the search for the workable compromises that we need to see.
“In this context, I am pleased to announce that the WTO fisheries trust fund has been created in response to a request from LDCs. This fund will assist LDCs in bringing their capital-based delegations to Geneva to participate in the clusters of fisheries subsidies meetings in 2019. Norway has pledged to donate 1 million Norwegian Kroner, which is approximately 110,000 Swiss Francs to the Fund. So thank you Norway for this generosity. I would also ask other members to consider whether they can support this important initiative.”
In his remarks the Director-General also reviewed progress on various issues under discussion at the WTO. He described the risks posed by the current trade tensions, which he said are already affecting trade growth, and gave an update on the debate on WTO reform, including the ongoing impasse in appointments to the Appellate Body. In closing his remarks he gave members a call to action:
“The systemic threats we face demand action from us all. I commend members for the commitment and engagement that we have seen so far this year, and for your efforts to resolve these issues. But it is clear to me that we need to do much more if we are to truly rise to the historic challenge before us. Our actions over the coming months will be crucial. So we have to get it right.”