November 15, 2019 / 4:24 PM / 3 months ago

WTO states to keep talking after missing date to end fish subsidies

GENEVA, Nov 15 (Reuters) - World Trade Organization (WTO) member states will miss their own year-end deadline to halt the fishing subsidies that are depleting global stocks, but are likely to extend their talks until June 2020, a WTO spokesman said on Friday.

Subsidies worth tens of billions of dollars are blamed for massive overfishing worldwide.

The new chair of the negotiations, Colombian ambassador Santiago Wills, was appointed last week after the job had been vacant for months..

Delegates meeting on Friday indicated that there was now too little time to reach agreement before the end of the year, the spokesman said.

At its Dec. 9-11 meeting, the WTO General Council is expected to formalise the next steps, with a view to reaching a deal by the WTO ministerial conference set for Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, in June 2020, the spokesman added.

A paper published by Marine Policy in September estimated global subsidies at $35.4 billion in 2018, although not all of those are the harmful ones targeted by the WTO.

China, the European Union, the United States, South Korea and Japan are the top five subsidisers. (Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Emma Farge; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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