Wells: WTO accession could impact subsidies to fisheries sector
The Bahamas’ accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) could cause a disadvantage to sections of the fisheries sector that receive subsidies from the government, Minister of Agriculture and Marine Resources Renward Wells said yesterday.
Making a presentation on the matter in the House of Assembly yesterday, Wells said subsidies to the sector will be seen as creating an unfair advantage for this country’s fisheries industry, whereas the WTO promotes fair trade.
“Subsidies are required to promote the development of the sector, but the provisions of the WTO negate against the issuance of such by governments because it is viewed as an ‘unfair trade advantage’,” said Wells. “We have to look at this issue more closely.”
The Bahamas has not yet signed on to the WTO – one of the last countries left to do so – but has observer status.
Wells took to the floor of the House to update Parliament on the Fifth Meeting of the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Ministers in charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and explained that the ministers reviewed the current information on the “ongoing negotiations on fisheries’ subsidies rules and the WTO”.
“It should be noted that the discussion points… are all relevant to the sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture within the Bahamas,” said Wells.
He added that a new fisheries act has been drafted and is being prepared for submission to Cabinet and includes international norms that will assist in trade.
Wells also pointed out that the Department of Marine Resources recently implemented fisheries management information system software, funded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The Department of Marine Resources has also increased its capacity to ensure continued access of its products to current markets and to seek new markets, according to Wells.
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