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Oct 27, 2005

Another setback for Belizean bananas

Belizean and Caribbean banana growers suffered another setback today as the World Trade Organization has ruled against the revised tariff proposed by the European Union on Latin American bananas. The W.T.O. said that the tariff of one hundred and eighty-seven Euros per ton was still too high to allow fair competition from South and Central American producers. The E.U. had earlier offered a levy of two hundred and thirty Euros. The E.U. expressed disappointment over the ruling and officials said they would study it carefully before taking action. The tariff-only system was supposed to come into effect at the beginning of 2006 to replace the current arrangement of quotas. Trade officials will likely seek a negotiated settlement before January but it is not out of the question for the present regime to remain in place for a year or two until a comprehensive agreement can be worked out. Even at the one hundred and eighty-seven Euro figure, Eastern Caribbean banana growers would likely go out of business, and while Belizean growers could probably hold on at that level, the industry would be under great pressure to cut costs and increase efficiency. The complaint against the E.U. banana preferences dates back to the late 1990′s when large U.S. based multinationals like Chiquita teamed with Latin American countries like Ecuador and Costa Rica to challenge the European system of subsidising its former colonies.

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