International Trade Agreements

The seafood sector plays an important role in the U.S. economy, generating approximately 1.5 million jobs and providing a nutritious source of protein to the American public. Trade in this sector is also vital, as the United States is the largest importer and fifth largest exporter of seafood. The United States currently imports more than 80 percent of the seafood it consumes, and about half of that seafood comes from aquaculture.

Because the United States is a large seafood-consuming and fishing nation, NOAA must take an active role in shaping the conservation and management regimes of international fisheries. We work to meet U.S. consumer demand for imported seafood that is safe, legal, and sustainable. We also aim to level the playing field for U.S. fishermen who operate in some of the most sustainably managed and heavily regulated fisheries in the world. We address these challenges by engaging other nations internationally, both directly and through various fisheries and intergovernmental organizations.

For questions on international trade, please contact Greg Schneider, NOAA Fisheries, Office of International Affairs (greg.schneider@noaa.gov).

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International Trade Organizations

World Trade Organization

The World Trade Organization is the only international organization that deals with binding rules on trade between nations. At its heart is a set of rules known as the WTO agreements. WTO members—comprising all of the world’s largest trading nations—negotiated, agreed to, and ratified these rules to help producers of goods and services, exporters, and importers conduct their business in a rules-based environment.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum was established in 1989 to promote open trade investment and economic cooperation among economies around the Pacific Rim. APEC members account for over 90 percent of global aquaculture production, more than 75 percent of the world’s capture fisheries, and approximately 70 percent of global consumption of fish and fisheries products.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development is an intergovernmental organization that provides a forum for consultations on a wide range of economic issues among developed countries. The OECD Committee for Fisheries, created in September 1961, provides a unique forum for an open and frank discussion on economics and policies related to fisheries. Debate, discussion, and work focuses on policy reforms and improvements needed to achieve responsible and sustainable fisheries.

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Sub-Committee on Fish Trade

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s Committee on Fisheries established the Sub-Committee on Fish Trade in 1985. COFI FT provides a forum for consultations on technical and economic aspects of international trade in fish and fishery products, including pertinent aspects of production and consumption.

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More Information

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