Banana exporters agree to EU deal

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The Independent Online
BRUSSELS (Extel) - The European Commission said yesterday that most of the Latin American countries involved in a long-running feud over banana exports had accepted a deal to raise their market share in the European Union.

Since 1 July, the EU has limited banana imports from Latin America to 2.2 million tons a year, down about 550,000 tons from 1992 levels, and placed a 20 per cent duty on them. Any imports above the limit incur duties of 170 per cent. The new offer raises the limit to 2.3 million tons this year and 2.4 million tons between 1995 and 2002.

A share of this quota will be allocated to each of these nations on the basis of their historic exports to the EU. But Guatemala, one of the five Latin American nations to bring the matter before a dispute panel of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, has not accepted the deal, favouring free trade in bananas.

The restrictions are an attempt by the European Union to strike a balance between favouring the banana-producing former colonies of some EU nations and supporting free trade.

The traditional plantations are found mainly in the Caribbean, where climate and soil mean they cannot compete with the 'dollar bananas' of Latin America without help.