May 21, 2004
EU called to honour obligations

The European Union (EU) has been called upon to honour its obligations under the Cotonou Agreement (signed in 2000 between the EU and African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) States) aimed at ensuring the continued viability of the Caribbean banana industry.{{more}}
The call was made in a 22-point communiqué issued at the end of the fourth UK/Caribbean Ministerial Forum held in London, May 10-12, 2004. The Forum, which was co-chaired by Britain’s Foreign Secretary Jack Straw and Dame Billie Miller, Barbados’ Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade on behalf of the Caribbean, had wide participation at ministerial level from all the English-speaking CARICOM countries, at ambassadorial level from Suriname and also included observers from the Dominican Republic, Cuba, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, the CARICOM Secretariat and the Regional Negotiating Machinery.
A three-person delegation headed by Sir Vincent Beache, Minister of National Security and including Commissioner of Police, William Harry and WINFA Co-ordinator Renwick Rose, represented St. Vincent and the Grenadines at the meeting. Topics discussed were Regional Security, Development Issues, International Trade Policy, Trade and Investment and HIV/AIDS.
The precarious situation of the banana industry was of especial concern to Caribbean ministers in light of declining export volumes and falling prices resulting in diminishing returns to farmers and Caribbean consumers in general. It is in this context that ministers from both sides (the UK and Britain) agreed that the EU must make every effort to honour its obligations to Caribbean producers especially under Protocol 5 of the Cotonou Agreement which reads in part:
“……The Community agrees to examine and if necessary, take measures aimed at ensuring the continued viability of their (ACP) banana export industries and the continuing outlet for their bananas on the community market.”
The Forum also recognized the importance of steps to facilitate the increasing market for pre-packaged organic, fair trade and other specialty bananas and to provide assistance to Caribbean countries to exploit traditional and non-traditional markets. The government of the United Kingdom also promised to support efforts by the European Commission to improve the delivery of adjustment assistance to the Caribbean banana industry.