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WTO Banana Agreement: situation of European banana producers

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Friday, 12 November 2010

WTO Banana Agreement: situation of European banana producers

"By lowering trade barriers we should make sure that we do not wipe out industries or sectors that traditionally have played important economic and social roles in certain European regions", said Lithuanian Member of the European Parliament, Laima Andrikienė, at a meeting with European banana producers today.The European Parliament's (EP) International Trade Committee held a second exchange of views yesterday on the global banana deal reached within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) earlier this year to which the European Parliament will have to give its consent soon. The so-called WTO Banana Agreement will oblige the EU to lower tariffs for imported bananas from Latin American countries from the current level of €176 per ton to €114 per ton before 2017.The discussion in the EP was attended by representatives of the European banana sector including the Association of the European Banana Producers (APEB) and an organisation uniting banana producers from the Canary Islands, ASPROCAN. European banana producers have significant concerns about the WTO agreement and their prospects of remaining competitive in the European market.Mrs Andrikienė hosted a working lunch to discuss the situation of the banana producers in the EU with the main stakeholders in the sector, including other MEPs and representatives of the European Commission. Andrikienė is responsible for the issue of the WTO Banana Agreement in the largest political group in the EP - the Group of the European People's Party.The discussion was also attended by the President of the Canary Islands, Paulino Rivero Baute, who urged the EU to increase its support for the banana sector and explained the significance of this sector from a political and social point of view. He said: "If the second most important economic sector in the Canary Islands was attacked, this would certainly contradict the social and economic objectives set by the EU."The host of the discussion, Mrs Andrikienė, while recognising that the EU should not stop its policy of encouraging global liberalisation of trade, including in agricultural products, stressed that there will be clear losers in the further liberalisation of the global banana market and that European banana producers will be among those most negatively affected by the liberalisation process.In 2008, EU consumers bought more than 5.4 million tons of bananas in total. The EU imported almost 90% of the bananas consumed - around 4.8 million tons, worth €2.9 billion. Five EU countries supplied the remaining 10%: Cyprus, the French Overseas Departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique, Greece, Portugal and the Canary Islands in Spain.

Source: EPP Group