Letter: Banana quotas

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The Independent Online
Sir: Margaret Daly (letter, 7 December), writing about the potentially disastrous consequences for some ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) countries of the proposed scrapping of EC banana quotas, correctly avers that

It would be ludicrous, and the public would not understand a situation where the Community was, on the one hand, providing financial aid to banana-producing ACP states while, on the other hand, introducing a trade regime that would lead to the destruction of their economies.

Unfortunately, this is precisely how the North usually conducts its business with the South. Low commodity prices, high prices of manufactured goods (both set by the North), and restrictive trade practices backed by the leverage which Third World indebtedness gives the creditor nations, cost the developing countries many times what they receive in aid.

The banana quotas are among few honourable exceptions. Sugar is another. Various ACP countries receive prices for their sugar equal to the subsidised price EC farmers get. But there too there are looming problems: proposals to cut the EC sugar subsidy (no doubt a good idea per se) will hit those countries, such as Mauritius and a number of Caribbean islands, which rely on sugar for a large proportion of their income, unless special provisions are made.

The public are all for helping the Third World off its knees, but at government level economic considerations are generally allowed to override humanitarian ones. The EC banana quotas and sugar subsidies give an opportunity to reverse this trend.

Yours faithfully,