September 16, 2005
WINFA: Banana proposal worrying

The proposal made by the European Commission (EU) for further reform of the banana import regulations of the European Union (EU) will satisfy none of the exporting countries.

The proposal, published on Monday, September 12th, lowered the previous proposal of a tariff of 230 euros per ton on Latin American bananas which was found by an Arbitration Panel to not sufficiently guarantee market access for fruit from that region. The new proposal is for a tariff of 187 euros a ton on Latin American bananas with no quota, and no tariff on ACP bananas but with a quota of 775,000 tons.{{more}}

WINFA finds this new proposal worrying since in the first place the 230 euros per ton was too low to protect Caribbean bananas. Worse, the lack of a quota for Latin American bananas and the fierce competition between exporters and marketers can only lead to a folding of the market as it did 10 years ago, driving down prices, ruining farmers in the Caribbean and causing massive lay-off of workers in Latin America. This will bring about the inevitable “race to the bottom”.

In the circumstances it is our view that our governments should step up their lobbying efforts, both with the European Commission and the Latin American countries. In, particular we should seek consensus with Latin America.

(1) to jointly reject any tariff only proposal for the time being given the disastrous effects it would have on the economies of exporting nations and the lives of farmers and workers;

(2) to jointly propose a continuation of the present tariff rate quota system for a fixed period; and

(3) to engage with the European Commission, African and European Community producers in negotiations aimed at arriving at a sustainable, long-term solution mutually acceptable to all.

We support the call of the government of Dominica for an urgent meeting of Heads of States of banana producing Caribbean countries, the CARICOM and OECS Secretariats, marketing companies, banana associations and farmers organizations to address the issue.