The EU’s decision to impose a tariff of €176/tonne on banana imports has been condemned by both sides as unsatisfactory.
The EU stepped in to set the tariff level following protracted talks with Costa Rica and Latin American countries, and with African, Caribbean and Pacific suppliers.
Latin American suppliers said the licence and quota system unfairly restricted their exports to the EU. The ACP countries, which have enjoyed preferential, fear a collapse in incomes with a more liberal system.
The new regime, which will include a duty-free annual import quota of 775,000 tonnes for ACP bananas, is seen as an attempt by the EU to force through its timetable of introducing a single tariff system on January 1. Under the new tariff, exporters can sell as much as they want. Currently, they have to pay €680/tonne on sales exceeding annual quota of 2.5 million tonnes.
Corbana, the representative body for Costa Rica’s banana producers, warned that it would continue to push for the lowest-possible tariff. Minister of foreign trade, Manuel Gonzales Sanz, said: “It is a unilateral decision that is not based on dialogue. We hope the EU will reconsider this.”
Co-ordinator of WINFA (the Association of Caribbean Farmers), Renwick Rose, said: “This is really going to create a lot of social and economic problems in the Caribbean.”
A Commission spokesman said: “We have to have a system up and running on January 1. If we had negotiated that would not have been the case.”
Greg Meenehan