Ambassador Tai Signs U.S. Instrument of Acceptance of WTO Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies Alongside WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

April 11, 2023

The Agreement is the first-ever multilateral trade agreement with environmental sustainability at its core.

WASHINGTON – United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai today signed the United States’ instrument of acceptance of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies and presented it to WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.  The Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, which was achieved at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference in June 2022, establishes important new disciplines on certain forms of harmful fisheries subsidies.  It is the first ever multilateral trade agreement with environmental sustainability at its core.

“The United States has been a leader in protecting our shared environment from harmful and unsustainable practices, including our oceans and marine resources—and those whose livelihoods depend on them,” said Ambassador Tai.  “We are proud to be among the first WTO Members to accept this agreement, which is the first ever multilateral trade agreement with environmental sustainability at its core.  It will help improve the lives of fishers and workers here in the United States and elsewhere, and we look forward to building on this agreement with other WTO Members.”

"I am delighted and grateful to receive the United States' formal acceptance of the WTO's Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies,” said WTO Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. This strong show of support by the United States for the WTO's work toward ocean sustainability marks a pivotal increase in momentum among the membership to ensure this landmark agreement enters into force. US leadership is vital to the WTO and to multilateralism. I look forward to continuing to work with the United States to ensure that the WTO responds to the needs of people and the planet."

The Agreement contains several important disciplines, including prohibitions on subsidies to vessels or operators engaged in illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing; for fishing regarding overfished stocks; and for fishing on the unregulated high seas.  The Agreement also includes robust transparency requirements aimed at strengthening WTO Members’ notifications of fisheries subsidies and enabling effective surveillance of the implementation of the obligations in the Agreement.

WTO Members have also committed to continue negotiations to build on the Agreement with additional disciplines on fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing. In May 2021, the United States submitted a proposal to the WTO to bring attention to the use of forced labor on fishing vessels and urged WTO Members to help address this global issue in ongoing negotiations to curb harmful subsidies to fishing activities. The United States will continue to pursue additional, ambitious disciplines through these negotiations, and will also continue to urge Members to support greater transparency with respect to the use of forced labor on fishing vessels. The Agreement will enter into force when it has been accepted by two-thirds of WTO Members.