Norway’s Statement at the Formal Trade Negotiating Committee (TNC) and Informal Heads of Delegations (HoDs) meeting 28 February 2023

as delivered by Ms. Benedicte Fleischer, Minister Counsellor and Deputy Permanent Representative to the WTO and EFTA, Norway

Thank you DG and especially our new chairs of COASS and NGR as well as the chair of CTD-SS for their reports. We support the processes outlined by the chairs. 

The various retreats have kept the membership focused, but we appreciate that only now can we regain the momentum from MC12.  

DG, you pointed to the fact that multilateralism is under pressure. We should as a membership take advantage of the positive multilateral results that have happened after MC12, and we would especially point to last fall’s COPs on climate change and on biodiversity. There was near universal agreement at both meetings, and this should give spin-offs in our own discussions to find consensus.  

A resolution of the Appellate Body crisis and a conclusion of the Fisheries Subsidies negotiations are Norway’s main priorities for MC13. We also want to see positive developments for renewed negotiations on agriculture and more generally, on all aspects of WTO reform. 

The Kunming-Montreal "Global Biodiversity Framework" (GBF), agreed in December 2022, has direct relevance for WTO’s work on fisheries subsidies. It gives a clear statement to protect at least 30% of all sea and all land, as well as at least 30% of degraded area under restoration by 2030. And it has a clear objective on funding, up to USD 500 billion is to be found by removing incentives harmful to biodiversity including SUBSIDIES by 2030. This has clear implications for our negotiations on reducing harmful fisheries subsidies. 

We believe it is important to discuss development aspects for all relevant parts of new disciplines from the start of negotiations, rather than negotiating disciplines first and then second exceptions. The fisheries subsidies negotiations give us the opportunity to put this into effect. 

Specifically for agriculture, food security has become a very relevant theme and should be given the necessary attention in negotiations (for example by focused clusters of meetings). And as you said, DG, start by focusing on what we can agree on. 

Let me end by saying that MC13 will need to make reference to environmental challenges. They are cross-cutting global issues, also for trade and the WTO. It comes into our work on subsidies, on market access, on least trade restrictive measures (TBT and SPS), on technology transfer and more. The whole membership needs to work on green solutions and find their respective comparative advantages, including through WTO negotiations.