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Thursday, 20 January 2011

End 16-year banana war, says International Trade Committee

Parliament should help to put an end to the world's longest-running trade dispute, by giving its final consent to the 15 December 2009 Geneva deal on banana trade tariffs, even though this deal could not fully reconcile all parties' legitimate interests, the International Trade Committee recommended on Monday. Under the 2009 deal on banana import tariffs, the EU will gradually end its preferential treatment of banana exporters in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. In exchange, Latin American countries agreed to drop their complaints against the EU at the WTO and not to seek further tariff cuts in the Doha round talks.The deal will see the EU gradually cut its import tariff on bananas from Latin America in eight stages, from €176 a tonne at the outset to €114 in 2017. Bananas from the ACP countries will on the other hand continue to enter the EU market duty free. Furthermore, the main ACP banana-producing countries are to receive help from the EU budget (up to €200 million), to help them adjust to stiffer competition from Latin America. The Geneva agreement is expected to bring benefits also to European consumers who should find cheaper bananas in stores thanks to greater competition between producers. What happens to EU banana producers? Special financial provisions are also foreseen for the EU's outermost banana-producing regions. These provisions must be now spelled out in a different EU regulation, with Parliament as co-legislator. Rapporteur Francesca Balzani (S&D, IT), considers that these additional financial provisions, proposed by the Commission in September 2010, do not offer sufficient support to EU producers. Parliament's Agriculture Committee is now studying the proposed support scheme for certain agricultural products in the outermost regions (the "POSEI" programme), the rapporteur for which will be Gabriel Mato (EPP, ES).

Source: European Parliament