By Miriam Humbe, Abuja
Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Mariam Yalwaji Katagum has said that the Federal Government was ready to implement the decisions reached at the just concluded 12th Ministerial Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
A statement by Assistant Director Information in the Ministry, Mrs.
Oluwakemi Ogunmakinwa on Tuesday said the Minister told this to the Director-General, World Trade Organization, Dr.Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who was on an official visit to the Ministry.
Reporters’Diary learned that Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s visit was a follow-up to the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference.
The 12th WTO Ministerial Conference took place between June 12-17, 2022 in Geneva Switzerland.
The Minister said that on her arrival from the MC12, she notified the President about the outcomes of the Ministerial Conference and the process of preparing a Council Note to inform the Federal Executive Council (FEC) of the outcome, and the steps needed to be taken to ensure timely and effective implementation of these outcomes were ongoing.
The Minister also said that the National Focal Point on Trade Matters, an Inter-Ministerial committee set up by the Federal Government to consider and advise on trade matters, had held a meeting to debrief stakeholders about the outcome of MC12 and had advised on the steps to be taken to ensure these outcomes were not just effectively implemented but were felt by the Nigerian people.
She said: “Among the raft of Decisions reached, the Ministry in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, have met to specifically consider the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies and deliberated on how Nigeria can implement the Agreement while also taking advantage of the opportunities presented by the newly created WTO Fish Fund”.
The Minister highlighted the outcome of the stakeholders’ meeting and requirements of Nigeria on the WTO Fish Fund which included:
Technical Assistance in the determination of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing – This could include assistance in developing appropriate domestic regime, training in enforcement, training domestic fishers, and ensuring an ability to take appropriate action with respect to foreign fishers operating in Nigeria water. This activity requires equipment to monitor fishing activities which is essential to enable Nigeria to trigger the prohibition of IUU fishing; Capacity building to carryout Stock Assessment – it is important to build the capacity of relevant institutions/ministries/colleges of fisheries in the determination of overfished stock in the Nigerian waters based on best scientific evidence which would trigger the prohibition in Article 4 of the Agreement; Develop capacity in the calculation of a Biologically stainable level (BSL) for a stock and the demonstration that subsidies will promote sufficient stock rebuilding;
Technical Assistance in the development of fisheries management program that maintains stocks at sustainable levels; Assist in the development of data-based solutions for issues being faced by traditional fishing industries both large and small-scale fishers; Assist in the integration of cutting-edge technology into fisheries data collection; Build capacity in the improvement of fisheries monitoring and landing site management and reduce post-harvest losses. The monitoring of fisheries is not adequate, leading to post harvest losses and limiting the ability of small-scale fishing communities to thrive; and Technical assistance to address the weaknesses in technical knowledge among the staff of the Fisheries Department, the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research and the Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Technology, and the local fishing communities. This would build capacity to ensure fishing is done at a sustainable level.
Amb. Katagum drew the attention of the DG WTO to the capacity difficulties of Nigeria which continued to undermine effective participation in the multilateral trading system.
She acknowledged the capacity building efforts of WTO around training of officers on international trade governance, and acknowledged the need for more targeted technical assistance from the WTO.
Katagum said the needed assistance would include WTO funded National Programmes which may comprise workshops on the implementation on covered Agreements.
She also said that assistance to Nigerian Universities in the field of Trade Policy Research and other Technical Assistance programmes offered by the WTO were needed.
Minister of State thanked the DG WTO for her visit and promised her of Nigeria’s continued support.
She also assured that Nigeria would be proactive in the negotiations that would lead to the development of a more comprehensive discipline for submission to Ministers at the 13th Ministerial Conference.
The Director-General of WTO, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said that her visit was a follow-up of MC12 because she wanted Nigeria to be among the first countries to implement the decisions reached.
The DG WTO expressed gratitude to the Minister of State and her team, saying she was proud of the Nigerian delegation.