Letter: Banana wars

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The Independent Culture
Sir: In the current dispute with the US over banana imports the the EU is not as Deborah Orr claims acting out of guilt (Comment, 15 January), but to meet its treaty obligation under the Lome Convention, to safeguard the position of Caribbean and other suppliers of bananas to the EU market.

This support is necessary because of the higher costs of production in the Caribbean, due to the small size of farms as well as different terrain and climate, which make it impossible for them to compete on equal terms with the vast plantations of Latin America.

Small Caribbean states such as Dominica depend on banana exports to the EU for around 70 per cent of all export earnings and much of their employment. No other countries in the world have the same degree of dependence. A collapse of the banana industry would lead to wide economic and social disruption. There would be a serious risk of Caribbean farmers being driven into drug production and trafficking, and of illegal immigration to the US.

The US threat of trade sanctions against the EU is designed to force changes on the EU, not required by the World Trade Organisation, which would enable US trading corporations to drive Caribbean growers out of the market. It is outrageous that textile and other industries in Britain should be damaged as part of the US campaign aimed primarily at enhancing the already dominant market share of these companies.


European Representative

Caribbean Banana Exporters Association

Woodlands, Middlesex