|Volume No. 1 Issue No. 72 - Monday October 17, 2005
|European Union Moves for Banana Waiver |
BBC Caribbean Report
The European Union has moved to persuade the World Trade Organisation to extend the banana import system for Caribbean, African and Pacific producers until the end of 2007.
The EU has pledged to replace its tariff and quota import system from January 2006 with a single-tariff level.
But it has been unable to agree with the Latin Americans on what the level should be.
Earlier this year, the EU lost a key battle when the WTO backed a claim brought by Latin American countries, who argued the EU tariff would have a "devastating effect" on their economies and exports.
Under an EU system set for launch in January 2006, imports faced a tariff of 230 euros ($280.30) a tonne.
The new tariff had aimed to safeguard exports from countries in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group.
Caribbean and other ACP producers have been lobbying hard for the EU to keep its preferential quota system, on the grounds that they couldn't compete with the bigger Latin American banana exporters under a under a tariff only system.
No real change – Laurent
But Edwin Laurent, the Windwards Islands special envoy on bananas to the EU said the move doesn't change anything for the region.
"This really does not change anything in order to assist the Caribbean what would be required would to be insist that we have either the high enough tariff after next year or alternatively, a continuation of the current import arrangements," he told BBC Caribbean radio.
"This is merely a partial, almost administrative arrangement which had been anticipated."
EU committed – Mann
Michael Mann, spokesman for EU Agriculture Commission spokesman said the EU is committed to maintaining preferences for ACP banana producers.
"The whole idea throughout was to maintain the waiver and to maintain the preferences for the ACP," Mr Mann told BBC Caribbean.
"All the way through, what we've said is that from January 1 next year, we'll have a tariff-only import system for Latin American banana producers but that we will maintain our preferences for ACP producers and that's exactly what we're doing by what we've done today."
The EU fears the lack of a deal on bananas could jeopardise attempts to hammer out a global trade pact when the 148 member countries of the World Trade Organisation meet in December.