The European Union, on behalf of its 27 member states, has deposited its instrument of acceptance of the WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, marking a major development towards the Agreement’s entry into force.

The EU’s instrument of acceptance was presented to Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in Paris on the side lines of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Ministerial Council Meeting.



The acceptance by the EU is an important step towards the entry into force of the agreement and the achievement of target 14.6 of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, states the Commission.

Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade, said: “I am very proud that we are among the first to accept the first-ever multilateral trade agreement to focus on sustainability. It is proof that the WTO can provide solutions to today’s sustainability challenges and that, as we reform the WTO, it provides a good basis for addressing other global challenges.”

Adopted by consensus at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) held in Geneva on 12-17 June 2022, the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies sets new binding, multilateral rules to curb harmful subsidies, which are a key factor in the widespread depletion of the world’s fish stocks.  In addition, the Agreement recognizes the needs of developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) and establishes a fund to provide technical assistance and capacity building to help them implement the obligations.

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.

Members also agreed at MC12 to continue negotiations on outstanding issues, with a view to making recommendations by MC13, to be held in February 2024 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for additional provisions that would further enhance the disciplines of the Agreement.

Ratification process creeps closer to target for implementation

The Agreement will enter into force once two-thirds of the 164 WTO members have completed their domestic ratification processes. The EU’s acceptance (counting for the 27 Member States) brings the number of WTO Members who had accepted the Agreement to 34.

News stories can be read here and here. The list of members that have submitted their acceptance of the Agreement is available here.

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