There could be an end in sight for the EU's "Banana War" with Latin America. Producers angry over having to pay high taxes for access to European markets could see taxes fall if the US, home to three main banana multi-nationals, agrees.
AFP - A long-running dispute between the European Union and Latin America over banana tariffs could be resolved by the "end of the week," the EU agriculture commissioner said Wednesday, adding that the parties needed just a nod from the United States.
Mariann Fischer Boel said the European Union had managed to get Latin American countries and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) nations to back a proposal to end the dispute.
"We need the Americans as well. And I must say that I'm very happy with the strong commitment from (US trade chief) Kirk, clearly saying that he wanted to help ... to finalise the long-standing banana issue," she said.
"Therefore I'am quite optimistic that we'll be able to finalise very soon," she said, adding that "we can have the text ready before the end of the week."
The banana dispute is the longest-running in the World Trade Organization, brought about by the EU's banana import regime that was introduced in July 1993.
While bananas shipped from Latin American countries are subject to import taxes, those from mostly poor former European colonies in the ACP region enter the bloc tariff-free.
The United States does not export bananas to the European Union but three of the largest producers with plantations in Latin America are US-based multinationals -- Chiquita, Del Monte and Dole.
The dispute can only be resolved when the EU has a deal with the Latin Americans on the level of tariff cuts, when the Europeans have an accord with ACP countries on compensation to help them cope with the tariff changes and when the United States agrees to the overall deal.
Date created : 2009-12-04