Letters: Banana Battle

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Sir: You report that the United States has imposed its 100 per cent tariff on EU luxury goods "rather than wait for a World Trade Organisation ruling" ("British fury at US over `banana war' ", 5 March). This is not strictly correct. A ruling on the issue was handed down by a WTO panel in 1997, which was broadly in favour of the US, and this was confirmed on appeal by the WTO appellate body.

The present impasse has been reached because the WTO dispute resolution procedure does not provide effectively for enforcement of judgments, a defect which needs to be addressed in the next round of negotiations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.

Before further damage is inflicted on the WTO by the parties to this dispute, both the US and the EU member states should reflect that the GATT system came into being after the Second World War as part of a package to ensure that such conflicts would never occur again. The GATT has been part of the system which has ensured global peace for the last half century. If the future of the WTO is threatened by this dispute, then GATT and all it stands for is also at risk.


Department of Law

London Guildhall University