Caribbeans fight to protect market share

A GATT ruling that the proposed EC import regime for bananas is unfair to Latin America, has the poorer Caribbean producers up in arms.

Published: Saturday 04 July 2015

Fruit of controversy: Latin Am CARIBBEAN banana producers have challenged the review to be undertaken by a General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) panel to examine European Community restrictions imposed on the fruit's import from Latin America.

The review was proposed by Latin American countries, whose bananas are cheaper, and seeks to do away with import restrictions that become effective on July 1 (Down To Earth, April 30, 1993). On the other hand, fruit producers from the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of countries are seeking to protect their share of the European banana market from the Latin Americans.

Starting July, there will be a quota of 2 million tonnes per year on Latin American bananas, which will carry a tax of $117 per tonne. Every subsequent tonne will carry a levy of $995 per tonne.

Latin American delegates to a meeting with Caribbean banana producers said they were "encouraged" by a GATT ruling that the EC's import regime unfairly limits Latin American exports. Caribbean representatives, however, see this as a threat to the present arrangement and their own market share.

ACP producers say the threat is compounded by the proposal that a second GATT panel review the restrictions. "All of this," said Dominican foreign minister Charles Maynard, "is quite prejudicial to our economies."

The Latin Americans said they "sympathised with" the ACP banana producers and "understood" their concerns, but they too had to develop their markets and protect their economies. "We should not have to pay a price for being efficient producers," said one representative.

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