Norway's Statement at the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) and Heads of Delegation (HODs) meeting on 23. July 2021

Ambassador Dagfinn Sørli, Norway's Permanent Representative to the WTO and EFTA, delivered the following statement at the informal Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) and Heads of Delegations (HODs) meeting on 23 July 2021:

  • Thank you, DG, for your report, and thanks to the negotiating chairs for their reports.
  • Norway has for quite some time identified the WTO response to the pandemic, fisheries subsidies and WTO reform as the key areas for delivery at MC12. Today, I will however limit my comments to the negotiations on fisheries subsidies, as this is the most important and urgent issue before us on the agenda of the Trade Negotiations Committee.
  • Results are long overdue. The world's oceans - as well as fishermen and -women everywhere - need a meaningful agreement that answers the call for more sustainable fisheries. It is about much more than saving fish. It is about securing a healthy marine environment for the sake of people – of this generation, and for generations coming after us.
  • We need to conclude the negotiations this year. Kicking the can down the road as we have done so many times in the past is not an option.
  • We heard and acknowledge the various views voiced at last week’s ministerial. We noted that many Ministers said that no outcome would be the worst of all results, because the current unsustainable practices will continue to deplete our common resources. We must not let the perfect become the enemy of the good.
  • We also heard that a result that seems to cement the status quo is not an acceptable outcome. We agree. We do however believe that the Chair's draft text contains elements of a realistic landing zone that can be built upon so that the end result will be significant changes in current practices. Let us therefore engage directly with each other in text-based negotiations so that we can conclude a deal that will make a difference.
  • To get to a deal will require all sides to compromise. Permit me in that context to make a couple of comments specifically on overcapacity and overfishing.
  • To us the most important thing is to immediately discipline the largest fisheries nations, the top 25 or so, and Norway being among them.
  • We heard the call for a de minimis. Norway is ready to discuss how we can accommodate the requests from the smallest fisheries nations for more lenient disciplines for them, including on transparency and on invocation of the flexibilities.
  • We have also noted the concerns regarding the core discipline in 5.1.1. Norway is ready to look at whether the text should include greater commitments by some members, especially the largest fisheries nations which also includes the biggest subsidizers, to ensure that subsidies do no harm, while at the same time accommodating other members with the necessary flexibilities to be able to make use of 5.1.1.  
  • Norway agrees with the Chair’s proposal for a two-staged, intensive negotiation in September and October. We will continue to engage constructively in our common search for a meaningful deal that can be concluded and accepted by all members as soon as possible.
  • Finally, Chair, allow me to suggest that we consider reinstating the informal time limit for interventions in the TNC as a means of streamlining our proceedings.
  • Thank you.