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WTO starts candidate selection process for Director-General


WTO starts candidate selection process for Director-General

Photo: Reuters/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

The first selection round for the World Trade Organization’s Director-General (DG) position concludes today, with member countries picking five of the current eight contenders.

The candidates that succeed today will face an uphill challenge as they attempt to navigate the organisation through its myriad issues. Alongside the US-driven collapse of the dispute settlement system and the US-China trade war, another issue of high importance is that of fisheries subsidies. Marine protectionism has exacerbated the continued diminution of global fish stocks—a problem posing serious ecological, humanitarian and labour concerns. Protectionist policies, such as the implementation of fuel and fishing vessel subsidies, contribute to overfishing by encouraging increased occupation within an already strained market.

Previous attempts to reach an agreement on fisheries protectionism have stalled due to the inability of the largest state subsidisers—US, China, the EU, South Korea and Japan—to agree on a set of rules. Even with a new director-general, it is unlikely that the top subsidising states will agree on a plan in the near term since rules on subsidies are often not evenly applied, but rather, applied according to the country’s development status. In the absence of a resolve to the dual application of rules, expect countries to continue implementing fisheries subsidies at a time when an estimated 90% of fish stocks are at least partially exploited.

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