Caribbean banana producers have criticised a European Commission decision to allocate an increasing percentage of duty-free import quotas for African, Caribbean and Pacific countries on a ‘first come first served’ basis.
Alistair Smith, international co-ordinator of ACP campaign group Banana Link, said it was “very bad news for the Caribbean and Windward Islands producers”.
He claimed it would favour West African countries because they had larger, faster ships that would reach European ports before those vessels sailing from the Caribbean.
Under the proposal, 60% of the 775,000 tonnes available this year as a duty-free quota to ACP countries will be first come first served, but this will rise to about 80% next year. The rest will be allocated on a historical basis.
Renwick Rose, co-ordinator of the Windward Islands Farmers’ Association, said: “This is going to drive us out of the market. All that is saving us at the moment is strong demand for fair trade.”