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Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Baroness Ashton attacked over proposed 'banana wars' deal

Lady Ashton, Brussels' new foreign policy chief, was accused of abandoning Europe's commitment to tackle poverty, as African and Caribbean governments reacted angrily to a proposed deal to end the 16-year "banana wars". Ashton, who is currently European trade commissioner, took a leading role in negotiating an agreement with Latin American governments, expected to be signed this week, which would bring to an end one of the world's longest-running trade disputes. But in offering to slash import taxes on bananas from Latin America, from €176 a tonne to €114 over the next seven years, Europe has infuriated countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific–many of them former colonies–which have traditionally had special access to Europe's markets. Ministers from the ACP called an emergency meeting after details of the Geneva Agreement on Trade in Bananas emerged, and today issued a strongly worded statement, warning that "the coming days could spell the end of the era when Europe considered the fight against poverty a priority". With areas such as the Windward Islands heavily dependent on the banana trade, ACP countries are concerned that exposing Caribbean growers to tough competition from Latin America could devastate the livelihoods of thousands of poor farmers. The statement said the banana deal is evidence that in adopting a "global Europe" strategy in the Lisbon Treaty, the EU is abandoning its commitment to countries with which it has had long historical ties.

Source: The Guardian