December 18, 2009
UK-Latin America banana deal big threat to region

In the wake of the latest banana deal ending the long running banana trade dispute, Renwick Rose has called on governments in the region to treat the matter with a measure of urgency.{{more}}

Rose, Coordinator of the Windward Islands Farmers Association (WINFA), is predicting that there will be some very serious social fallout in the rural areas if banana totally collapse.

“In the context of the social aspects of it, already we have problems with crime, drugs, and unemployment,” he added.

He stated that businesses will have less money to spend and that means that more people will be laid off.

He, however, used the opportunity to call on banana farmers to do all they could to preserve their place in the market but also to ensure they look for alternative supportive systems.

Rose said that some people may view the fallout as difficult times ahead for bananas, but this latest  ruling also means difficult times ahead for the economy.

The European Union (EU) confirmed last Tuesday that it had clinched a deal with Latin American countries to end the trade dispute over banana tariffs.

In response, the US has agreed to settle its related dispute with the EU.

The EU has also offered to mobilise up to Euro 200 million for the main African and Caribbean banana-exporting countries to help them adjust to the stiffer competition from Latin America.

The dispute over banana trade is the longest-running in the WTO, brought about when the EU’s import regime introduced in July 1993.

While bananas shipped from Latin American countries are subject to import taxes, those from mostly poor former European colonies in the ACP region enter the bloc tariff-free.

The United States does not export bananas to the European Union, but three of the largest producers with plantations in Latin America are US-based multinationals – Chiquita, Del Monte and Dole.

However, the banana dispute as a whole can only be fully resolved if the EU also secures an accord with partner African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries on compensation to help them cope with the tariff changes. (HN)