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GLOBEFISH - Information and Analysis on World Fish Trade

Fisheries trade and 2016 WTO public forum

14/09/2016

FAO will organize a Fisheries Working Session "Making Fisheries Trade more Inclusive: a Unique Pattern for Supplying the World's most Traded Animal Protein to Global Markets", during the 2016 WTO Public Forum. The theme for this year Public Forum will be "inclusive trade", creating a unique opportunity to discuss how a wider range of individuals and businesses can participate in the trading system and how WTO rules can help to ensure everyone benefits from trade.

The Fisheries Working Session will be held on 28 September 2016, in Room W at the WTO premises in Geneva, from 10:30 h to 12:00.

A variety of trade policy tools, including tariffs and subsidies, and non-tariff measures, such as food safety and sustainability standards, have a significant influence in shaping fisheries production and trade, particularly in accessing markets in developed countries. While many of these measures are in place due to legitimate objectives, in practice their implementation can lead to technical or financial obstacles, as well as restrictions on market access. These include private standards, traceability requirements, tariff escalation, diverse certification compliance, as well as illegitimate protectionist acts hidden in the form of TBT and SPS measures. These challenges are especially true when considering capacity constraints of stakeholders in developing countries in questioning possible protectionism measures.

Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire - Fishermen offloading tunas after a fish catch at Abidjan's industrial fish port.In that sense, a more comprehensive international integration along the value chain is vital for fisheries stakeholders of developing countries to maximize their opportunities to export products with more added value. To overcome such market access challenges and to ensure a more inclusive trade pattern, it is crucial to have a comprehensive and nuanced awareness of the functioning of the existing trade regulatory framework. This knowledge would enable relevant stakeholders to analyze and challenge possible trade barriers and identify the Non-Tariff Measures that are potentially affecting their exports. Reducing information asymmetries is an important goal that should always be pursued by international organizations, such as UNCTAD, FAO, and WTO.

During this Fisheries Working Session, the team of panelists will address the importance of fisheries in international trade and the crosslinks of fisheries production with unique market opportunities for developing countries and small and medium stakeholders regarding income generation and distribution, food security and other related aspects. In addition, how the existing regulatory framework under the WTO regime could become more transparent and predictable, and how it creates the basic conditions for an inclusive participation in international trade will also be important aspects to be presented. Finally, panelists will highlight how the understanding of policies and enforcement issues related to trade regulations could reduce the current knowledge asymmetry, leading to a more inclusive participation of small and medium stakeholders in the global fish trade and enhancing market access possibilities, as well as facilitating the identification of critical problems faced by small and medium operators when entering international markets.

The Working Session will also serve as a forum for the exchange of views through an interactive discussion amongst participating government officials, researchers, academia, international experts, NGOs, fisheries operators, and industry representatives. Covering these issues would also open up opportunities to discuss a variety of capacity building and technical assistance options available to countries, including programs on standards and quality management, to ensure compatibility between the national legal framework with relevant international agreements and standards, and assistance in the formulation of regional policy responses that could contribute to ongoing market access negotiations in various international fora.

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