A fisheries agreement within the WTO is ‘at hand’, but members still have to make improvements to the draft charter, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (Ustr, for its English acronym).
Trade ministers will meet around next week to try to wrap up a deal on cutting subsidies that contribute to overfishing after 20 years of discussions.
The Geneva-based trade body has been unable to strike a multilateral trade deal for years and has struggled mostly in the fisheries sector, to the point that delegates only reached agreement on the definition of “fish” last December.
“The United States wants a ‘victory’ for the WTO, for fish and for workers,” an official in the US Trade Representative’s office said in a statement emailed to Reuters, alluding to a US proposal to reduce the use of forced labor on fishing boats.
“We believe it is within reach, but it will require all members to make and support improvements to the text that will lead to a meaningful outcome,” he said.
The United States is only one of the 164 member countries of the World Trade Organization and trade agreements are reached unanimously. In practice, however, he makes a lot of decisions and negotiators will be looking for cues from Washington in the coming days.
The official, who asked not to be named, said pressing for an end to these talks would be “a real test for the WTO.” “It is not enough to have an agreement just to get it,” he added.