Prominent Chinese blogger blames India for failure on WTO fishery subsidies deal

India Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal
India Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal | Photo courtesy of WikiMedia Commons
4 Min

A prominent Chinese blogger has blamed India for the failure of fishery subsidies deal negotiations at the World Trade Organization (WTO) ministerial meeting in March 2024.

The blogger, Wan Li, who also uses the moniker PKT on the heavily censored Weibo microblogging channel, claimed that India blocked progress on the fishery subsidies deal, as well as two other key WTO issues – a moratorium on duties on goods like video games and software sold electronically and a new pact on foreign direct investments in developing countries. 

The WTO has two more years remaining to extend a ban on subsidies for overfishing and overcapacity in fishing fleets cemented in a smaller WTO deal reached in 2022. India opposed a widening of that deal that would expand restrictions on fishery subsidies because it largely blamed countries with major distant-water fleets, such as China, for global fishing and overcapacity and said it wanted to preserve the right to subsidize fishing in domestic waters by subsistence-level domestic fishermen. It also called for a ban on fishery access agreements used frequently by China and the E.U.

China, the E.U., and the U.S. had each agreed to extend a global ban on cross-border e-commerce duties, but the intervention of India and South Africa means the moratorium will expire in 2026, according to the WTO.

Additionally, India blocked a deal on an investment protocol supported by both China and the U.S. According to the deal's supporters, the Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement would make it easier for major economies to invest in developing countries.

India has said it wants any deal signed at the WTO to be multilateral, rather than the “plurilateral” deals arranged between smaller groups of members. Wan Li wrote that 164 out of 166 WTO members were willing to sign on to the agreement at the March ministerial in Abu Dhabi. The blogger cites European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis as stating the vast majority of WTO member states were ready to sign off on the deal but progress was blocked by one state in particular.

Wan Li also singled out a remark by India Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal, who said India has blocked the chance of a face-saving deal for the United Arab Emirates, the meeting’s host.

Political relations between China and India have been complicated by a border dispute and China’s zero-Covid protocol, which harmed Indian exports.

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