China blocks US forced labor proposal at WTO fishery subsidies talks
China has refused to endorse a U.S. demand for annual inspections of fleets for use of forced labor to be included in a World Trade Organization accord on curbing illegal fishing subsidies.
China said the WTO has no mandate for tackling the labor issue in the agreement. The topic of forced labor was introduced to the talks only recently by the U.S. delegation in response to increased emphasis on the issue in Washington D.C.
WTO members appear to have reached consensus on carve-outs or exemptions for least-developed countries, though a working definition of what constitutes a least-developing nation has yet to be agreed to. Members are also still working to get agreement on Article 4 in the draft agreement, which would prohibit subsidies for exploiting stocks already in an overfished condition (as compared to Article 5, which prohibits subsidies that lead to overfishing).
In the latest version of the draft text, Article 4 allows for subsidies if they are used to support the rebuilding of depleted fish stocks. Numerous WTO members at the talks have called for subsidies to be allowed where measures are in place to prevent overfishing, though defining what constitutes “effective measures” has been a sticking point at the talks.
Also among the sticky issues yet to be resolved before a crux ministerial meeting in late November is accord on Article 11.4 of the text, which deals with disputes over territorial claims, and a separate article creating a dispute-settlement processes.
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