|Volume No. 1 Issue No. 72 - Monday October 17, 2005
|Deep Dissapointment Over WTO Ruling |
by Government Press Secretary
The Government of Dominica is very deeply disappointed to learn that the Arbitrators in the second arbitration proceedings in the ongoing banana dispute has ruled against the European Union’s (EU’s) proposed tariff of €187 per metric tonne and a 775,000 mt tariff quota on imports of ACP bananas.
Dominica is dismayed that the principles, norms, and rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and the multilateral trading system has once again let down the smallest, weakest and most disadvantaged players in the world’s economy in favour of the wealthy and powerful multinational corporations who dominate and control the world’s banana industry.
Dominica is left to wonder whether membership in the WTO’s international trade regime of small vulnerable developing countries has any benefit for their economic development.
The second award of the Arbitrators against the EU proposed new tariff is another crushing blow to the banana industry in Dominica and the Windward Islands.
The ruling in all likelihood could further exacerbate the decline in banana production and export which has been taking place since the early 1990s and which is largely associated with the disputes brought against the EU banana regime by Latin American banana producing states and the USA in support of the multinational banana trading companies in 1996.
The impact of this latest ruling will be most acutely felt by the thousands of banana farmers whose very livelihoods continue to depend on the production and export of bananas.
The majority of these farmers operate small peasant farms, live in the rural communities of Dominica, and many are female heads of households. This ruling therefore throws their economic future into uncertainty.
However, it is not only the farmers, who could suffer from the destruction of the banana industry in Dominica which the Arbitrators ruling could bring about, but the entire economy and society of Dominica.
Everyone employed in the banana industry and everyone who depends on the income earned by those employed in the banana industry will feel the pain of any disruption to exports.
The risks of increased unemployment and social decline cannot be overstated. The sad part of all this is that Dominica’s economy is only just beginning to recover from a painful recession.
This is therefore another clear example of how the WTO negatively impacts on the interests of the small vulnerable developing countries.
Dominica therefore reiterates its complete disappointment in the ruling of the WTO Arbitrators. Dominica questions whether the Arbitrators have taken fully into account all of the considerable political, economic and social issues at stake for the small ACP banana producers particularly those in the Windward Island.
In light of the ruling Dominica calls on the European Union to honour its commitments to the ACP States under the Lomé and Cotonou Agreements as it continues to seek a satisfactory solution to the long running banana dispute.