Solomon Islands Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade Hon. Jeremiah Manele called on Trade Ministers of the World Trade Organization (WTO) for a balanced fisheries subsidies agreement at the Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12) in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Foreign Affairs Minister made the urgent call in his statement, presented at the proceedings of the Twelfth Ministerial Conference.
Minister Manele urged members that the MC12 cannot have an outcome without the policy space needed to safeguard and allow for responsible and sustainable growth in the Solomon Islands fisheries sector.
“We must ensure fishing and differential licensing arrangements are preserved,” he emphasized.
Minister Manele highlighted the importance of SDG 14.6, that prohibits certain forms of fisheries subsidies, which contributes to overcapacity and overfishing, and eliminate subsidies that contributes to Illegal, Unreported, Unregulated (IUU) fishing.
He called on the WTO to recognize that appropriate and effective Special and Differential treatment (SDT) must be accorded to developing countries, especially LDC’s like Solomon Islands, and should be at the heart of the fisheries subsidy negotiations of the WTO.
“Like other Pacific Island States, Solomon Islands fisheries industry is not just one aspect of our economic activities. The fisheries industry is our way of life; it’s part of our culture both in terms of maintaining our peoples’ livelihood and food security, but also in keeping community social cohesion”, stressed the Minister.
Minister Manele also expressed the importance of WTO Reform in light of the changing global environment, asserted the importance of agriculture and food security, and emphasized on a WTO response to the COVID-19 Pandemic to ensure availability and access measures for vaccine equity.
On Least Developed Country (LDC) graduation, Minister Hon. Manele urged the WTO members to render continuous support for graduated LDCs to ensure a smooth and adequate transition period for graduating LDCs, who will be facing significant trade and development challenges post-graduation.
The Minister also cautioned on the external shocks and vulnerability of LDCs, in light of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“The impact of COVID 19 to our economies such as ours (Solomon Islands) cannot be over emphasised,” stated the Minister.
The Minister reaffirmed Solomon Islands commitment to engage constructively over the coming days of the MC12 and beyond, ensuring that our interests are heard in the WTO.
The Twelfth Ministerial Conference officially commenced on 12 June and concluded (by one extended day) on 16 June 2022.